Editor's note: This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. to provide more context.

The Jefferson County Commission on Thursday declared a state of emergency/disaster in the face of the growing COVID-19 virus threat.

Though no cases of the virus had been confirmed in the county, the declaration was made “due to the virulent nature of the virus” and “in order to activate applicable provisions of Jefferson County’s emergency and disaster plan in anticipation of [its] spread,” according to the terms of the declaration.    

The declaration, confirmed in a 3-0 vote during a special Commission meeting, directed that the county's Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan be implemented and authorized "all necessary County offices and departments to take appropriate action to assist the County and individuals in containing, preparing for, responding to and recovering from this emergency/disaster; and to protect County property, and provide such other assistance as may be necessary to protect public health, safety, and welfare."

The declaration authorizes the Commission to levy an emergency millage not to exceed two mills on the taxable value of real property to cover expenditures related to the emergency. However, the commissioners have said they do not wish to impose the levy, and have until September to decide.

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