UPDATE: The Preston County Health Department has noted the 12th death COVID-19 in the county. The victim was an 82-year-old man.
KINGWOOD — Preston County is coming out on the wrong side of the numbers — nearly doubling COVID-19 cases and deaths in November when compared to the previous seven months.
“To put it into perspective, I thought I’d put some numbers together to give you guys an idea just how bad the numbers have been,” Preston County Health Department Director V.J. Davis told the Preston County Commission Tuesday evening.
From March to October, Preston County had 241 COVID-19 cases and four deaths.
“In the month of November alone, we have had 463 cases and seven deaths,” he said.
“So we have basically almost doubled the amount of cases that we had up until November in the month of November. It’s been a horrible month for the whole state and the whole country. We are seeing the surge that they talked about in the spring,” Davis said.
Two more deaths this week — a 72-year-old man and a 71-year-old woman — bring the total number of deaths in the county as of Tuesday to 11.
Three COVID-19 cases were in isolation at Mon Health Preston Memorial, Davis said.
And, while “the hospital isn’t in dire straits right now, they don’t want to see any more than what they currently have.”
There may be light at the end of the tunnel, Davis said. The department has been informed the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine could be in the county next week.
The number of doses will be limited and administered according to state health plan guidelines. The first doses will go to people working in hospital ICU, emergency room and COVID units; and staff at assisted living and long-term care facilities.
Health department staff will also be among the early recipients because they will be out administering it to others, Davis said. First responders will also be in the first round.
“Unfortunately you’re dealing with a limited supply of vaccine, and West Virginia will only get so many doses to start with,” Davis said.
He encouraged people to read a Washington Post article that can be accessed via the department’s Facebook page.
“I think once you read the article and look at the research and see everything that has been done with these that has not been done with other vaccines, I think most people would probably think it’s safe,” Davis said.
To make the community safe, 60%-70% of people need to be vaccinated, he said.
In light of the current surge, County Administrator Kathy Mace said county officials are putting together plans to work with reduced staff, if necessary, to reduce spread or if cases occur in the offices.
Masks and social distancing are still required in county buildings. At the courthouse, COVID questions are asked of visitors and temperatures taken. People are encouraged to make appointments to visit county offices or do business online, Mace said.
She will be sending an email to all county workers, asking if they want to receive the vaccine. Government workers are considered “critical infrastructure,” she said.
Additional PPE has been ordered, Mace said, for those who will be doing the vaccinations. It will be paid for with money provided earlier by the federal government.
N95 masks have been provided law enforcement, and will be made available to the courts and health department.
“Some of this is getting harder to find,” she said of the PPE.
In April the commission ordered four ventilators with part of that grant.
The grant requires items to be delivered by Dec. 30, but the vendor can’t guarantee that, Mace said, so she’s requested an extension of the deadline. The supplies for the ventilators have been received.
“It’s not that we did not order them. It’s not that they do not want to give them to us. It’s supply and demand,” Mace said.
Commissioners also certified the Nov. 3 election results and voted to give KAMP Ambulance the $3,000 originally allocated for Mountaineer Ambulance Service. KAMP has established a station at Newburg and is taking Mountaineer’s calls.