KINGWOOD — Commissioners heard a bleak update from Preston Health Department Administrator V.J. Davis Tuesday.
Davis told the commission Preston County now has the highest incident and positive COVID rates in the state.
“Right now, we are solid red,” he said.
Davis said 24 of the 28 COVID deaths in the county happened between Nov. 1 and Dec. 28.
“That’s one death every 2.4 days,” he said.
Davis said since Nov. 1, the county has also had 1,380 new cases or an average of 24 new cases per day.
“This is not the flu,” he said. “For elderly people, it is way different than the flu. I want people to get the ‘like the flu’ out of their heads.”
Davis said the county has “way too many” people who have tested positive and are still going out in public.
He said anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive should quarantine.
“There are too many cases for us to keep up with,” Davis said. “Individuals that test positive — stay away from people.”
He said vaccines have been being administered for three weeks.
Davis said senior centers and first responders are receiving the vaccine.
“I am encouraging people to get the vaccine,” he said. “It’s safe. I got it, and you can see me standing here. We need to get to the 70% mark.”
Davis said those who test positive at the U.S. Penitentiary Hazelton count as one case, as do those who test positive in local nursing homes.
He said the cases are counted in this manner because the people who are testing positive are not going out in public.
He said individuals who have had COVID are immune for 90 days.
However, he said they should get vaccinated following the 10-day quarantine period.
In other business
Commissioners recognized Sheriff Dan Loughrie and Prosecuting Attorney Mel Snyder for their years of service.
Snyder chose not to run for office again and is retiring.
“Myself, my dad and my granddad served (as prosecuting attorneys) for a total of 11 years. That’s three generations. I believe that’s a state record,” Snyder said. “I’m going to represent the town of Kingwood and visit my kids.”
Loughrie couldn’t run for sheriff again. State law mandates a sheriff can only hold office for eight years.
“I want to thank the people of Preston County for their support over the past eight years,” Loughrie said. “We brought the sheriff’s office up to today’s standards.”
Commissioner Samantha Stone said the commission also thanked Eugene Jenkins and Betsy Castle for their service.
After 12 years as a magistrate, Jenkins chose not to seek re-election.
Castle served for 42 years in the circuit clerks office, first as a deputy circuit clerk and then as the circuit clerk.