June 13th, 2016 Newsletter

I recently had the opportunity to visit and tour the Region 2000 Service Authority Landfill in Campbell County. It was a good visit, very interesting and informative. I am also pleased with the steps being taken to control the odors and I have a better understanding of why this is not an overnight fix and such a work in progress.

A larger gas extraction flare has been installed, making a total of two for this landfill. On March 17th a vapor phase odor distribution unit was installed and has been up and running since that date. The landfill will be placing a cement shell on a portion of the landfill within the next week.  In late June, the vertical wells will be placed in Phase III and should pull 60 to 70 percent of the gas.

I also learned there will be a different method used in the next phase. Region 2000 is currently engineering a drain field system with pipes that will be horizontal, versus the vertical that were installed in the current phase.

I look forward to much more progress as the citizens of Campbell County are still dealing with this awful issue daily.

I would like to take this opportunity to update you concerning activities underway within the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) in order to respond to public health threats posed by the Zika virus.  Many of my constituents are anxious as they read daily news stories about the virus.   VDH serves as the lead agency for the Governor-directed Virginia Zika Task Force, and has a web page www.ZikaVA.org with numerous resources, including the Virginia State Zika Response Plan.

While 80 percent of individuals infected with the Zika virus will not become ill, and the symptoms of the disease are usually mild, infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, and other severe fetal brain defects which have life-long impact.

Prevention of transmission of Zika virus is highly dependent on limiting person-mosquito contact and the control of mosquitoes.  All Virginians have an important role to play in mosquito control, and every one of your constituents can make a difference. The key to controlling the mosquitoes that could transmit Zika is ultimately in the hands of Virginia residents, particularly homeowners. As of today, there have been no locally transmitted cases of Zika in Virginia.  All 25 cases of Zika reported in Virginia thus far have been related to travel to foreign countries. 

Mosquito control does not have to be complicated.  The type of mosquito that could transmit the Zika virus in Virginia is the Asian tiger mosquito, which breeds only in container habitats that are usually found in yards around people’s homes.  These mosquitoes do not fly far (only about 150 yards) and do not breed in puddles, swamps or ditches.  As a result, effective control of this mosquito requires Virginians to regularly dump, cover, discard or treat containers of water – even the smallest amounts of water - in their yards.  At this time, animals do not appear to be involved in the spread of Zika virus.  Therefore, a concentration of people and Asian Tiger mosquitoes, as well as the presence of the virus, is needed to facilitate the local transmission of the disease between people and mosquitoes. 

While all localities in Virginia are authorized to create mosquito control districts, only about 10 percent of Virginia’s jurisdictions have established mosquito control programs. In the event that our mosquito population becomes infected, filling that gap will require additional funding and time.  VDH is working with the Virginia Municipal League, Virginia Association of Counties and Virginia Association of Regional Planning District Commissions to assist localities with their planning efforts, and to assure that those local plans are in alignment with the state plan.

Your support for Virginia’s public health system – and for their Zika preparedness planning – is greatly appreciated.  There is no question that this is a serious public health matter and the VDH has a responsibility to take every precautionary step we can to keep Virginians healthy.  The VDH plans keep us up to date on their continuing efforts to enhance Virginia’s readiness to deal with Zika.

If you have any concerns, questions, comments or issues that I or my Aide, Jenna, can help you with, please contact us at (434) 821-5929 or email at [email protected]. You can also keep up with me on my facebook page at www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.

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