Health officials concerned with potential spread of COVID this Christmas

TAYLOR COUNTY—County health officials are urging caution concerning gatherings over the Christmas holiday, as the county’s positive COVID-19 case count continues to rise, and more residents fall victim to the potentially deadly disease.

“Our numbers continue to rise in the county. We are adding numerous new cases each day through our mobile testing site, and many of the positive cases we have been seeing have had some tie to Thanksgiving gatherings,” said Graton-Taylor County Health Department Threat Preparedness Coordinator Shawn Thorn.

Since Friday, the county’s positive case count increased from 414 to 455. Additionally, on Friday, Taylor County Health Officer Dr. David Bender sadly reported that the county had lost another life to the virus.

“The Grafton-Taylor County Health Department has confirmed the county’s eleventh death related to COVID-19, this time involving a 72-year-old female,” Bender disclosed. “We at the health department send our deepest sympathy to the family.”

With the drastic rise in cases, Thorn urged residents to be extra cautious of gatherings during the Christmas holiday.

“We just remind folks to continue to limit their exposure to others, to wash their hands frequently and keep them away from their face and mouth and as always, please wear your masks,” he voiced.

On Monday, during the morning COVID-19 update call, Thorn revealed that the county was experiencing an eight percent positivity rate, but what was more concerning was that the infection rate was nearly 80 percent.

“We need to be concerned with those kinds of numbers,” he expressed. “Furthermore, West Virginia has the third highest infection rate in the nation. It is time for us to buckle down and start following the guidelines closer.”

Because of the rise in cases, when the WV Department of Education released their color-coded metrics map, Taylor County had made its way into the red category for the first time during the pandemic.

“Because of the red classification, Taylor County Schools were moved to a full virtual learning tier,” reported Jenny McCarthy, Taylor County Schools Director of Attendance and Safety. “The students were already learning from home this week, but now, teachers and staff will not be working within the county’s school buildings.”

Superintendent Christy Miller expressed that school officials urge you to continue to follow best health practices, including wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, hand washing and cleaning protocols regularly.

While the pandemic rages on, officials are working to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in accordance with the phase-driven program issued by the state.

During Phase 1, hospitals, long-term care facilities, pharmacies, emergency responders, public health officials, teachers and education personnel, utility workers, transportation workers and other community infrastructure and resources workers will receive the vaccinations.

The general public will be able to begin receiving their inoculations when Phase 2 rolls out. During that time, recipients will be prioritized by age, with those presenting a physician’s orders noting pre-existing health conditions obtaining the serum first.

While the vaccination will not be available to the public for a few weeks, Thorn advises residents to begin to do their homework on the vaccination, so that they can make an informed decision as to whether or not to receive the shot when the time comes.

“Ask questions, seek good information. Don’t trust Facebook. Make an informed choice. I strongly recommend anyone who could get one to get one,” said Thorn. “Now is the time to start educating yourself.”

And, while receiving the vaccination is a personal choice and is not mandated, it is highly encouraged.

Those seeking more information may contact the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department by phone at 304-265-1288. Information packets concerning the drug’s ingredients, possible side effects and other important information are available upon request.

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