TAYLOR COUNTY—With confirmed cases of the Novel Coronavirus disease, COVID-19, in West Virginia and the most recent being in Monongalia County, Taylor County officials are entering a new phase in their response to the outbreak.
“Although there are no current cases in Taylor County, we want the residents to know that we are being proactive in our response,” said County Commission President Orville Wright.
Dr. David Bender, County Health Officer for Taylor County, reported that as of 9:45 a.m., on Friday morning there had been no confirmed cases of COVID-19, however residents have undergone testing.
In an effort to ensure all individuals who believe they could have possibly contracted the virus are tested, officials from around the county are coming together to offer drive-through testing.
“There are certain criteria that individuals must meet in order to undergo the testing,” Bender revealed. “However, our goal is to identify every single person in Taylor County that may have contracted COVID-19 and get them in self quarantine, as quickly as possible.”
If someone feels that they have been infected with Coronavirus, they should first call Grafton City Hospital at 304-265-0400, and let the operator know that they are calling in reference to the screening for the virus.
Hospital officials are reminding individuals that they have instituted strict protocols to help ensure the health and safety of not only their staff but the patients at the hospital, including limiting visitation and access to the hospital.
“Individuals will be asked a series of questions as medical personnel work to triage them over the phone,” said Shawn Thorn, Threat Preparedness Coordinator for the Graton-Taylor County Health Department. “Once it has been determined that they someone is being considered a ‘Person Under Investigation,’ they will be issued an appointment time to utilize the drive-through testing.”
Some of the questions that will be asked during the phone conversation will address whether or not the patient has experienced fever, cough or sore throat, if they have traveled to one of the areas of community transmission, as well as if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or has recently undergone testing or the virus.
Both Bender and Thorn reiterated that due to limited testing supplies at this time, only individuals who have followed above procedure will receive testing for COVID-19.
“It is important to also note that once someone has been suspected of being a possible carrier of Coronavirus, they will need to self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days,” Thorn voiced. “Once a test is completed, it will take up to three days before the results are available.”
Individuals are asked to bring with them a photo identification to help move the testing process along smoothly.
In addition, on Tuesday, the Taylor County Commission approved a proclamation declaring the issuance of a state of emergency for Taylor County. On Friday, the proclamation was put into effect.
Through the enactment of the document, the commission will be able to sidestep purchasing restrictions and will be able to fast track needed supplies and provide additional resources for the community.
“We are trying to be as proactive as we can, as this is a fluid situation and is constantly changing and evolving,” said Commissioner Wright. “This state of emergency will not be limiting or restricting residents.”
In addition, the City of Grafton and the Taylor County Commission have agreed to foot the bill for the purchase of P95 masks for all of the first responders, including law enforcement officials, firefighters and emergency medical squad personnel, both paid and volunteer throughout the county.
“It is something these men and women will need to help keep them safe while they are on the front lines,” Wright said. “They will be the ones who are experiencing a higher risk of exposure to Coronavirus, and we need to do what we can to help keep them safe.”
The Taylor County Office of Emergency Management, with close discussions and advice from Bender and the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department, will have their command set up early next week, taking the lead on operations within the county, to best handle the situation.
For now, as the situation continues to constantly evolve, residents are encouraged to follow the recommendations set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including frequent and thorough hand washing, social distancing and limiting public exposure, including limiting groups to no more than 10 people.
Thorn shared that residents are encouraged to gather information from the Mountain Statesman, as it will be the chosen media outlet for information and updates regarding Coronavirus and Taylor County.
“The partnership with the Mountain Statesman has been thoroughly vetted by the Taylor County Office of Emergency Management, the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department and Grafton City Hospital as the source for the most reliable information for the local area,” he said.