Recent outbreak adds positive cases to county’s COVID count

TAYLOR COUNTY—Although the positive COVID-19 case count continues to rise in the county, health officials have seen some improvement in the positivity rate of infection for residents and are working to continue to diminish the spread of the virus.

“We’ve had an average busy week, here in Taylor County,” reported Grafton-Taylor County Health Department Threat Preparedness Coordinator Shawn Thorn. “We continue to test every day and typically see an increase in our daily testing.”

As of Friday morning, the total number of positive COVID-19 cases in the county was 647, with 101 of those still being active,

“We have 146 probable cases countywide and 532 individuals have recovered from the virus, which is a great number and something we really like to see,” Thorn commented. “Unfortunately, we have reported another life lost to the virus, bringing that total to 14 deaths in the county.”

County Health Officer Dr. David Bender revealed that there is currently an outbreak within one of the county’s nursing care facilities, and officials are working together to help mitigate any further spread.

“Right now, 14 individuals have been affected. There are four staffers and nine residents, with one resident death occurring,” “We are going to see if it ends up being as extensive as the Rosewood outbreak was.”

Bender revealed that a high percentage of these patients and staff had received their first dose of the vaccine, however they received their second dose only the day before the outbreak began.

“So, every day that goes by with no new cases there, I think perhaps gives more and more protection to individuals who got their second dose of the vaccine,” he commented.

He reported that a number of the patients who had been infected with the virus have undergone treatment with Bamlanivimab (Bam), a monoclonal antibody treatment.

“Soon we will be able to see firsthand how effective it was for them,” Bender noted.

As the positive case count rises, county health officials are seeing some positive news.

“While our local testing does not show a reduced percent positivity rate, the state, who is taking into account testing that is occurring at other locations in the county, has reported a small downward trend in both the infection rate and percent positivity,” Thorn shared. “This is great news for us.”

And while the number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to rise, health officials are continuing their efforts to combat the virus, through daily testing, contact tracing and the ongoing vaccination efforts.

“We were not able to vaccinate any new individuals this week, however we were able to administer the booster, or second doses, of vaccines to residents who had already receive their initial dosages,” he explained. “We are anticipating soon that we will receive additional quantities of the vaccine.”

In fact, he revealed that the county would potentially be receiving enough vials of the serum that they would be able to hold smaller-scale vaccination clinics.

“With those doses, we would be able to hold smaller versions of the regional clinics that are occurring,” Thorn reported. “We don’t currently have a time frame for when, but we have meetings with our partners to discuss the specifics.”

He said that the smaller clinics would be held either daily or two days a week in the county to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

“We hope to get them started soon. Once we have more information, we will make it available to residents, so, keep your eyes open for that,” he asserted. “We just need more doses of the vaccine, because we have the arms to put it in.”

The Grafton-Taylor County Health Department is continuing to provide free COVID-19 testing at their mobile drive-thru site on US Rt 119 in the parking lot of the First Baptist Church of Grafton. The church is located on US Route 119 South, just outside of Grafton.

Testing is conducted Monday through Friday, from noon to 2:00 p.m., daily, on a first-come, first-serve basis; however, next week will be slightly altered.

“We will not be testing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, January 18, as it is a holiday. We will resume testing on Tuesday, January 20,” Thorn announced.

To prevent the spread of COVID -19, everyone is urged to follow best health practices as issued by the Governor’s Executive Orders and outlined by the WV Department of Health and Human Resources.