The current pandemic of SARS CoV 2 related disease, COVID-19, has resulted in 108 confirmed and 3 probable cases among Cabell County residents through June 25, 2020. The Cabell-Huntington Health Department receives and investigates all resident cases of COVID-19 and since June 15 has seen a significant increase in cases. Investigation to date indicates that cases are associated with resident and nonresident travel to South Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee, group events including family gatherings, and cases with no other risk factor, which can be an indicator of active community spread.
From June 15 through June 25, 35 cases have been reported in Cabell County. That compares to 27 cases in the first 2 weeks of April, which stressed the health care infrastructure and was controlled using strong social intervention including mandated restrictions in interaction. Subsequent removal of restrictions has been beneficial to society, however, these easements require ongoing personal efforts from all people and agencies to continue protective strategies including face covering, physical distancing, disinfecting, hand washing, distance learning and working. Judgement based self-exclusion from high risk activities such as staying home when sick, avoiding nonessential travel, and avoiding nonessential gatherings of people not in your household remain as critical protection against the spread of this disease.
Investigation of the recent Cabell County cases shows low adherence to the recommended practices, especially distancing and face covering.
Because persistence of spread of COVID-19 in the current trending fashion will result in significant unnecessary disease, some of which may be severe and can result in death, and because required quarantine of exposed individuals causes a substantial inconvenience and potential loss of income to individuals as well as impacting businesses and employers from absenteeism, we must work together to stop the spread of this disease in our community.
Therefore, as the Health Officer for Cabell County and the City of Huntington, I implore all our citizens to:
- Use face coverings in the presence of others who are not members of your household, especially indoors, but also outdoors when distancing is not possible. The target for use is 60-80%
- Carefully maintain physical distancing of 6 feet from others who are not members of your household at all times possible.
- Avoid nonessential travel out of state. During travel, use all recommended face covering, distancing, disinfecting and other measures to protect yourself.
- Carefully consider your participation in all events to assure your safety.
I would ask all businesses and agencies to:
- Review all policies and procedures to assure compliance with current rules and recommendations regarding allowed activities under the Safer at Home rules.
- Provide all necessary Personal Protective Equipment and disinfecting supplies as required. Strictly observe physical distancing and allowed occupancy.
- Encourage maximal use of face covering by employees.
- Consider travel restriction policies.
- Consider 14-day quarantine policies on return from high risk travel areas.
- Continue to follow best practices for infection control as found in CDC guidance for your industry at www.cdc.gov.
I would advise all health care providers and agencies to:
- Review COVID-19 testing protocols and procedures to assure appropriate testing for with a goal of maximum capacity with minimal barriers to access.
- Be alert to the potential for increased caseload in outpatient and inpatient settings.
- Assure Personal Protective Equipment usage and supplies.
- Strictly observe all infection control protocols and procedures to protect patients and essential personnel.
- Report all cases of COVID-19 disease as soon as possible. As a category 1 disease under the reportedly disease rule it is immediately reportable to the Cabell-Huntington Health Department.
Working together to take care of ourselves, each other, and our community is the most effective way to battle this pandemic.