TAYLOR COUNTY—When looking at a map of the state’s counties, one will notice that Taylor County is an island, surrounded by areas that have reported at least one confirmed case of Novel Coronavirus 2019.
Residents are encouraged to ramp up their precautions to help keep the virus at bay.
As of Friday morning, the county had tested a total of 82 people, and aside from the 24 tests still pending, results have been negative thus far.
Shawn Thorn, Threat Preparedness Coordinator with the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department reminded, “We still need to be very aware of the steps we can take to help negate the spread of this virus. Wash your hands, keep your distance and stay home, and we can continue to keep this under control.”
Dr. David Bender reported that there were a few tests that were going to be performed throughout the day on Friday, and that Thursday, tests from higher risk patients had been sent to the state lab.
“Results are coming back quicker now. They had been taking approximately seven days to return results, but we are hearing back within four days at this point,” he revealed. “The state lab is getting results back to us as quickly as 24 hours, but they are very specific about which patients they are testing.”
Bender explained that the state lab was requesting tests from those in public health care, first responders, those who are critically ill, have severe underlying health issues and women who are pregnant.
He noted that the majority of the cases that are coming back positive throughout the state are centered in areas that straddle the interstate.
“I think the more rural counties, like Taylor County, will only see sporadic cases, and it will only be a real problem if we have a cluster case,” Bender shared.
Should those such cases arise, Public Health Officials will work in a retrospective manner to try and trace back the line of contact and find a possible contamination source.
In other news, the county is gearing up for another disbursement of food for students throughout the area.
According to Superintendent Christy Miller, in speaking with Donnette Nines, Director of Child Nutrition, it was learned that the West Virginia National Guard would be delivering packaged meals to the county on Monday.
The meals are then set to be divided out and taken to the six locations throughout the county to be passed out to students. Those sites include Black Bear Customs’ parking lot, the Taylor County Senior Citizens Center, Taylor County Family Resources, Project HOP2E, Flemington Elementary School and the gravel lot by Twin Oaks at Tygart Estates.
“During the distribution, we will be giving out meals for the week, including five breakfasts and five lunches,” said Miller. “And again, registration is not required to for the youths to take part in the feeding program.”
Thorn revealed that meals will be doled out on Tuesday, April 7, from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
“For those who are unable to make it before the 1:00 p.m. deadline, they may pick up their food at the Project HOP2E building until 6:00 p.m.,” he added.
The staff at Taylor County Family Resources shared that they are happy to act as one of the sites but are asking residents to please follow the safe distancing protocols set in place during these events.
“We will be setting up across the street from our office and offering a drive-up service,” said Lisa Wotring. “The issue that we encountered last time was that when we arrived with the food, there were approximately 25-30 people standing at our front door, and they certainly were not six feet apart.”
She reiterated that when coming to TCFR to obtain food for students, individuals are asked to remain in their cars, noting that everyone will be served.
“I am worried that people are becoming desensitized to the six-foot rule, and we need to stress its importance as West Virginia gets closer to its peak in cases,” said TCFR Executive Director Cathy Coontz-Griffith. “I think right now it is crucial for folks to remember to stay six feet apart.”
Grafton Police Chief Bobby Beltner expressed that he would have patrols circulating near the distribution sites in Grafton, to help ensure proper procedures and protocols are being followed.
He also noted that he wanted to address the rumor that the West Virginia State Police are stopping vehicles with out of state license plates on them.
“This is simply not true. A vehicle cannot be stopped merely because they are from out of state, unless a directive should come from the Governor,” disclosed Beltner.
“What we are doing here is checking any possible place for people to camp to ensure that no new visitors are coming to the area,” said Beltner. “All we can do is patrol the areas that we have here, and we are doing that. The people that are here from out of state have been here for a while now.”
City Manager Kevin Stead noted that no new campers from out of state would be allowed into the city’s campground, located below the Tygart Dam.
Thorn followed that thought up by reporting that the campgrounds out in the county have also been checked out and are in compliance through the health department.
“We want everyone to understand that everything is being taken care of. What we do not want is individuals feeling as if they need to take matters into their own hands,” he voiced. “Everything is being handled properly.”
County officials continue to work to help community members navigate through the COVID-19 crisis, and updates will be provided as often as possible.
For those with questions or concerns with COVID-19, please call the Taylor County Office of Emergency Management at 304-265-0118. Someone will be available to take your call from 8:00 a.m. until midnight.