Local officials address Coronavirus concerns

GRAFTON—Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19 concerns have residents scrambling to secure supplies and seek medical attention, but officials would like to remind individuals that there no need to panic.
To help alleviate some of the worry, health officials would like to offer some reminders to residents. The first being that as of now, there have not been any confirmed cases of the disease in West Virginia or Taylor County.
“We are rural and somewhat geographically isolated,” said Dr. David Bender, County Health Officer for Taylor County.
According to Shawn Thorn, Threat Preparedness Coordinator for the Graton-Taylor County Health Department, the goal of officials across the state is manage the disease long-term and contain it as much as possible.
“We know that Coronavirus will eventually be here, so our main focus is on prevention,” he said.
By avoiding handshakes and other close contact with individuals, residents can help prevent the spread of the disease. Individuals who are 60 years of age or older, or those with compromised immune systems, should avoid non-essential public places.
Additionally, residents are encouraged to limit any non-essential travel.
Communities have been asked to cancel all large gatherings of people and schools have been shut down to help relieve the spread of the Coronavirus. Businesses are asked to cancel conferences and large business meetings and limit travel with business trips.
There has been a push to close the doors of nursing homes to visitors for the health, safety and well-being of the residents that live there. Taylor Health Care Center announced that they would be greatly limiting access to their facility during the upcoming weeks.
In addition, hospitals are being forced to find ways to limit exposure of Coronavirus amongst not only their staff but with those who are seeking medical attention.
It has been announced by Dr. Bender, that starting Monday, anyone who believes they may have contracted COVID-19 will need to call Grafton City Hospital to report their illness. Arrangements will be made for screening at an off-site location, at the hospital’s old sleep lab.
“I want to stress that you should call the hospital if you are having the high-risk symptoms. Just showing up may put many other people at risk if you are truly infected,” Bender stressed.
Having a secondary site will ensure that the patient’s screening will take place in a sterile and controlled location to help decrease the spread of the disease.
There are criteria that an individual must meet before they will be tested for Coronavirus.
“If you develop a fever above 100.4 with an associated cough you may be at risk,” Bender said. “You will also be tested for the flu and other viruses which can cause the same symptoms, like pneumonia.”
Residents who have traveled to what officials are calling “hot spots” or affected geographic locations, mainly Washington D.C., as well as New York, California or Washington states, are at higher risk. Should anyone who has traveled to those areas experience any of the above symptoms, they should contact the hospital immediately.
“This illness is spread through droplet from a cough or sneeze. It is imperative that we thoroughly wash our hands and keep our personal space as sanitary as possible,” Bender reminded. “This protects us and also our close contacts.”
“Many of us in health care have been training our entire career for this moment and are here to help. Let’s all say our prayers and be brave and we will weather this storm,” Bender imparted.
The Grafton-Taylor County Health Department will be hosting a virtual town hall meeting via their Facebook page on Tuesday, March 17 at 6:00 p.m. During the meeting, residents may comment with questions, and officials will address them.
The Mountain Statesman will be hosting a watch party from our Facebook page as well, to help reach as many residents as possible.