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Mon health officer: Roll up your sleeve for you and your community

Three F’s and a D.

No, it isn’t your kid’s report card from his first freshman semester after going off to college.

It is, however, a societal grading, with lots of virology mixed in.

And it’s the kind of assessment that Dr. Clay Marsh, the state COVID-19 czar and WVU healthcare administrator and dean, would rather not be regarding these days.

The three F’s: Fatigue. Football. Fall.

The D: Delta. As in the Delta variant, which is roiling through West Virginia at record rates.

Ahead of President Biden’s address to the nation last week and WVU’s first home football game Saturday, Marsh took some time to talk about the emotion behind the contagion.

Dr. Lee B. Smith, the executive director of the Monongalia County Health Department and the county health officer for Mon, did the same.

Both physicians, in fact, wrote the same prescription.

Both said getting vaccinated remains the only way to truly put the brakes on a pandemic in resurgence.

The timing of the latter, Marsh said, couldn’t be more troubling.

“People do have fatigue,” he said.

Fatigue of masks, protocols and the just the weight of it all.

And fatigue over the fact that things could easily shut back down – even as they’re now fully opening back up.

“We all want to go to football games,” Marsh said.

“We all want the world to get back together.”

What he doesn’t want, he said, is to see people sick with COVID and its Delta variant.

However, that is exactly what is happening across the Mountain State.

Forty-three of West Virginia’s 55 counties were showing red on the County Alert map, last Friday afternoon.

And 86% of patients across West Virginia (possibly more, even) currently hospitalized with COVID or Delta have yet to be vaccinate, according to the state Department of Health and Human Resources and other watchers.

Then comes football and fall.

The sport brings large groups of people together in stadiums, where they’re still shoulder-to-shoulder, more often than not, even if they’re still outside.

The season brings smaller groups of people indoors, where the effect could be just as intimate.

Smith traveled to College Park, Md., last week for the Maryland game, where fans, he observed, generally wore face masks in the stadium concourse and at the concession stands.

“Once they were back in the stadium, though,” Smith said, the masks came back off.”

Both physicians said they understand people have different motivations over rolling up their sleeve for the shot.

Or, not rolling up their sleeve, for the shot.

Smith said he prefers, at this point, to reach out to the people still giving the inoculation measured thought.

“It’s only through the actions of the community, all of us doing the right thing, that we can bring this to a close,” he said.

If you keep declining the shot, Marsh said, you need to wear a mask any time you’re grocery shopping, going to a football game or doing just about anything else outside of the confines of your home.

“Getting vaccinated,” he said, “is the best way to keep yourself from becoming very ill or dying from what is a preventable illness.”

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