KINGWOOD — Preston County has the 10th highest COVID infection rate in the state of West Virginia, according to Preston County Health Department Director V. J. Davis.
“Tomorrow it could be even higher,” he said at Thursday’s Preston County Health Department meeting.
Davis said there has also been an increase in deaths, with a total of 37 — 4 of which occurred over past couple of weeks.
“We have about 45 new cases per day,” he said. “That’s 467 active cases, 67 of which is 4 to 18 year olds, and 112 that are breakthrough cases.”
Breakthrough cases are those in people who have been vaccinated, Davis said. Breakthrough incidences makes up .01% of the county’s COVID cases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “some fully vaccinated people will get sick, and some will even be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. However, there is evidence that vaccination may make illness less severe for those who are vaccinated and still get sick. The risk of infection, hospitalization, and death are all much lower in vaccinated people compared to unvaccinated.”
Davis said he doesn’t know when the COVID booster shots will be available. He said the FDA has to approve them first.
“As soon as (booster shots) are approved, we’ll figure out how to go about giving them,” he said. “The hardest part will be figuring out when someone was vaccinated. If they were vaccinated in another county, we won’t have the information. It will be up to the person to go get another copy of their vaccination card.”
Dr. Fred Conley, Preston County health officer, said Thursday was the first day Mon General Preston Memorial Hospital did not have a COVID patient.
He said individuals who want to be tested for COVID should go through the drive-through testing site and only go to the emergency room if they are ill.
Conley said going through the drive-through saves the person who wants to be tested from paying a hospital bill. The results are available within 24 to 48 hours.
“The state is saying we’ll see a peak in cases on Sept. 20,” Davis said. “Once it gets there, we hope to see the numbers going down. Preston County may not peak that soon.”
He said the health department has been receiving calls about some of the bigger events scheduled in Preston County. He said his office has no control over the events — stopping the events requires a statewide mandate by the governor.
“When we are asked for advice, we advise that a lot of people getting together will increase the spread of COVID,” he said. “We always say it’s better to err on the side of caution.”
Prior to adjournment, board president Jim Fields said he wanted to commend Davis and his staff for operating under a lot of stress over the past year and a half.
“We are truly blessed. I have never seen anyone as dedicated as these people are,” he said.
The next meeting of the Preston County Health Department will be 7 p.m. Nov. 18.
For more information about breakthrough cases go to https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/health-departments/breakthrough-cases.html.