Taylor County finally falls victim to Coronavirus

TAYLOR COUNTY—Over the weekend, residents began receiving news that Taylor County was among the list with COVID-19 positive cases, and by Monday morning, that number had risen to four cases.
“So far, we have done 98 tests for Taylor County citizens, and we are awaiting results for 13 of those,” reported Threat Preparedness Coordinator Shawn Thorn. “Here is the bad news, we do have positive cases.”
It had been reported that there were four positive tests returned for Taylor County residents, however after further review by the state lab,  two of those cases were deemed negative. However, another 50-year-old male has tested positive for the virus, bringing the county’s total to three cases.
He said that the COVID-19 contamination seems to have occurred outside of the county, either from working or visiting shopping establishments and do not appear to be related.
With the number of residents known to have been infected with the Coronavirus disease on the rise, officials are urging community members to work harder than ever before to follow the safe social distancing guidelines, to continue washing their hands, avoiding touching their faces and limiting their exposure to public gatherings.
 “Now more than ever, we need to stay home,” Thorn implored. “Stop going out and wash your hands!”
County Health Officer Dr. David Bender said that although positive cases have been reported, West Virginia’s curve has remained fairly flat, so far.
“Our doubling time, or the amount of time it takes for cases to double, is already starting to slow a little bit. It looks like it is about 5-7 days right now, and that is a good thing,” he said. “Especially as our cases increase. Hopefully we will be able to stay flat like we are right now.”
As the news broke of the positive cases involving Taylor County residents, individuals began asking various questions concerning who the patients were and where they could have possibly been.
Bender said that due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, HIPAA, laws there is limited information that can be shared about the patients.
“Two things we absolutely cannot release are the names or addresses of the patients,” he revealed. “We also cannot release information about where the person has visited or where they have been, unless it had some public pertinence, like saying that they have been hospitalized.”
Another area of concern that Bender discussed with officials was that some people who will test positive might try and leave their self-quarantine, even if it is to get essentials from the grocery store. He noted that if a person’s refrigerator is empty when they begin isolation, then the only way to fill it is to break quarantine and go shopping.
“We do not want that. There will be people who do not have food or cannot afford to buy food and are going to have to do without, and now is absolutely the time that agencies need to come together to help with this issue,” Bender voiced. “I think at the very minimum right now, people who are on the self-quarantine should be offered a basket of food delivery to their porch.”
He said that someone needs to be done for those individuals so that they don’t feel forced to leave their homes.
Cathy Coontz- Griffith and Lisa Wotring with Taylor County Family Resources volunteered to get food items gathered together for quarantined individuals, and Grafton Police Chief Bobby Beltner said he would ensure that the police department would take on the risk of delivering the items to those awaiting their test results.
“I want to thank you at Taylor County Family Resources stepping forward, but what I am talking about here is a community relied effort,” Bender voiced. “I don’t want one agency to feel like they need to bear the burden for this effort.”
He called upon city, county and state officials, as well as other area organizations and church groups to come together to establish a plan for the relief effort.
“This is a time that we all need to come together as a town and a county and take care of our own. The quicker we can come together to come up with a plan, then two or three weeks from now when we start to see some true suffering, we can effectively help our people,” Bender said.
Superintendent Christy Miller reported to the group that the United Way of Marion and Taylor Counties has programs in place that could possibly be utilized in such an event.
Thorn continued with the topic of food and told officials that the National Guard had delivered their food items and that everything was ready to go for Tuesday’s distribution for the students.
Taylor County’s Public Health Officials, in conjunction with key city and county players, are working to keep residents as up to date with information as possible.
“As the state collects data in batches, they are not as current as your local information sources,” said Thorn. “Trust and follow the Taylor County Office of Emergency Management (Taylor OEM), the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department and the Mountain Statesman for local information.”
As always, individuals with questions or concerns about COVID-19 are encouraged to please call the Taylor OEM at 304-265-0118. Someone will be available to take your call from 8:00 a.m. until midnight.