TAYLOR COUNTY—The Delta variant of the Coronavirus is proving to be a formidable opponent for the county, as the positive case count continues to rise, without any sign of slowing.
“We have had yet another busy week here in Taylor County. Our case count for active cases is now up to 77, and they are coming in as fast as I can talk,” voiced Grafton-Taylor County Health Department Threat Preparedness Coordinator Shawn Thorn. “The new cases are being added quicker than we can clear others, which is not a good sign.”
Unlike the previous forms of the virus, the Delta variant has been infecting the younger populations of the county, another issue that could cause concern.
“We are seeing a large, large uptick in infections in our toddlers and infants. We are getting more and more of those cases every minute,” Thorn revealed. “They are suffering mild to moderate symptoms and luckily none have been hospitalized yet.”
And while the younger populations haven’t had severely adverse reactions to the virus, some of the county’s adult cases have led to hospitalizations, with some resulting in the use of feeding tubes and ventilators.
“This is not a good sign; however, we have others who are able to receive the monoclonal antibodies and are responding well to them, so that’s a good thing,” noted Thorn.
Because the Delta variant is being spread more easily through youths, Doctor David Bender voiced concern that there was not a mask mandate in place for students for the start of the school year.
Superintendent Christy Miller reported that she had made a suggestion to the Taylor County Board of Education at their recent meeting that mask wearing would be at the discretion of parents, with certain stipulations in place.
She shared that if the county moved into a red designation on the statewide map, mask wearing would be enforced for a period of 14 days. At the end of the two-week term, school officials would re-evaluate the situation to see if further mask wearing would be needed.
“The board took up my recommendation that it would be the parent’s choice to put the mask on their child,” Miller divulged. “We do have some other extracurricular activities and sports that are asking and encouraging their students to wear masks.”
She said throughout the state, there are eight outbreaks that can be traced back to extracurricular activities, and only four that can be linked to a classroom setting.
“We currently have six kids who are quarantined as of yesterday,” Miller added, noting that schools are set to see the return of students on Monday.
Bender questioned whether Miller would have the power to institute a mask mandate if she felt the need was present.
“My understanding is that you Dr. Bender, as the health officer of the county, can order that the superintendent demands that everybody wears a mask,” Miller commented. “So, you have the power to decide.”
With the current standing of the virus throughout the county, Bender shared that he would strongly recommend that students be masked up for the first two weeks of the school year. In fact, he agreed to speak at the special Board of Education meeting last night to make that suggestion.
Thorn commented if there was a way to mitigate spread ahead of the curve to keep schools in session, then it should be done.
And it isn’t just students that Bender and Thorn would like to see masking up.
“It is very clear that transmission is very high right now. Everybody just needs to wear a mask,” Bender declared.
Thorn expressed that he doesn’t like wearing a mask just as much as the next person, but he does so to help his fellow community members.
“Even though I am fully vaccinated, I have been wearing my mask again and we all need to be,” Thorn imparted. “That’s what it is all about, protecting our community.”