TAYLOR COUNTY—As the county’s COVID numbers begin to rise, health officials are asking residents to try and make smart decisions about out of state travel.
On Tuesday, the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department’s County Health Officer, Dr. David Bender confirmed that two individuals, who had visited an out of state family member had tested positive for the virus, being recorded as the 10th and 11th cases for the county.
Then, on Friday, Bender once again announced that due to a trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the county had recorded another active case of COVID-19, bringing the total county count to 12 confirmed cases.
“Four of those cases are still active,” Threat Preparedness Coordinator Shawn Thorn revealed. “However, with the increase in tests administered and the total positives, Taylor County has crept back over one percent. It was nice for a month while it lasted, but it looks like vacation time is going to throw us a whammy.”
He said that Nelda Grymes, RN/BSN, Grafton-Taylor County Public Health Nurse Director, is currently working on contact tracing in the current active cases.
During the weekly meeting, Thorn revealed that neighboring Preston County had a spike in positive cases after a group of students returned from a trip to Myrtle Beach, an area hit hard by the virus.
“Through preoperative testing, one positive was recorded from an asymptomatic patient, but after an investigation was started in Preston County, they have now recorded eight cases from just that one trip,” Thorn reported.
He said that he understands that people want to make their way to the shoreline to enjoy some fun in the sand and sun during the start of summer, but when doing so, individuals need to remember that there is an ongoing pandemic.
“The cases we have recorded here have occurred when our residents travel outside of Taylor County and bring the virus back,” he noted. “If you are going to go on vacation, try to pick a place that is not a hot spot.”
Thorn said that should individuals make a trip to Myrtle Beach, or any other hot spot for that matter, that upon their return they self-quarantine for the recommended 14 days, monitor for any symptoms and possibly undergo testing to ensure that the virus is not being spread within the community.
Dr. Bender voiced agreement with Thorn’s recommendations, sharing that a self-quarantine is a great way to mitigate any spread of the virus.
“Unfortunately, with the cases in Preston County, and possibly here locally, these kids have already exposed their family members, co-workers or other individuals, and it could really be a snowball rolling down hill,” he said. “We will just have to hold our breath and see what happens here in Taylor County.”
He reported that within a 48-hour span of time, between 20-25 people underwent COVID-19 testing at Grafton City Hospital.
“I know that Shawn and I had discussed that if that was going to keep up, then we could certainly begin to utilize the drive through testing site again, without any issue,” Bender disclosed. “We could get back to it next week, if we need to. The next couple of days will tell us if that will be necessary.”
Thorn revealed that while the Taylor County Board of Education and Grafton High School had a plan in place for a June 27 graduation ceremony, with the increase in cases, there is a possibility that those plans will not be carried out.
“With what we have seen in neighboring counties, and with what we know of our students who have gone, plan to go or already at Myrtle Beach, that could drastically change,” he voiced. “If we have even one student come back positive, I do not foresee graduation being carried out as planned.”
Bender added that it would not just be the graduation that would be affected; however, all group gatherings could be halted by the governor once again.
“We just have to cross our fingers and hope that our numbers don’t spike up. We know that we have residents in hot spots right now. If you’re going to go to a bad place be smart,” said Thorn. “Now is the time to be extra vigilant. Wear your masks, wash your hands and follow the distancing guidelines.”