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COVID on the rise: Adjusting to life with virus precautions moving forward

SALYERSVILLE – Roughly 2 ½ years into COVID-19 being part of our world, it is evident the virus is not going anywhere, with current spike leading to an increase in positive cases and hospitalizations.

Magoffin County Public Health Director and Salyersville Mayor James “Pete” Shepherd, who is actually recovering from the virus currently, told the Independent that from last Monday to this Monday, July 11, the Magoffin County Health Department recorded 58 new COVID-19 cases, as compared to the 20-30 cases the county has been averaging per week in recent months. Just counting Tuesday and Wednesday morning, the health department has recorded 35 cases, putting Magoffin County on par to potentially double that number this week.

While the weekly numbers are still well below record-breaking, Shepherd reminded the public that the numbers are deceptively low, with many testing positive at home and self-quarantining.

“We’re asking that people who test positive at home to call the health department and let us know so we can keep track of the community spread,” Shepherd said.

The Magoffin County Health Department is giving out up to three free COVID-19 home test kits per household as supplies last (they’ve already handed out 1,000 kits, with another shipment now in) and Shepherd said they will be distributing Moderna boosters on Tuesday, July 19 at the health department on a walk-in only basis.

As it stands at press time, there are four known hospitalizations involving Magoffin Countians with COVID-19.

Shepherd also explained that the current most common strand of the virus generally circumvents antibodies from past strands of the virus, as well as the vaccines and boosters, but being fully vaccinated does heavily decrease the chances of the virus being as severe.

“This is a highly contagious strand, affecting mostly upper respiratory with a lot of coughing and sneezing, so if someone with the virus sneezes, anyone in the general area is going to catch it,” Shepherd said. “If you’re having any symptoms, you need to test, even if you think it’s just sinuses or allergies. This mimics everything we already have, so take a test. Social distancing is still key, as is handwashing, and they still recommend wearing masks in public for a few days after you come out of quarantine. There are no mask restrictions, but masking in indoor congregate settings is encouraged when community spread is at a high level.”

Currently, Magoffin County is considered in the medium category going by the state’s community levels map, with the following recommendations included on the CDC’s website for counties with a community level medium:
– If you are at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions;
– Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines
– Get tested if you have symptoms

Shepherd explained that the COVID-19 relief funding from the state and federal levels is all finished, with doctors and hospitals, along with individuals at home, responsible for contact tracing. He asked that people use common sense when they’ve had a potential exposure, have symptoms, and/or have tested positive.

“There’s nothing I can say that I’ve not already said,” Shepherd said. “Follow the guidelines, stay home if you’re sick and get tested, and try to avoid large crowds. If you’re around someone with it, you’re going to get it, and I can tell you, it’s not fun.”

For those who test positive at home and want to report their case to the health department, they can call 349-6212.

Boosters will be available on Tuesday, June 19 for walk-ins, and free at-home COVID-19 test kits are available at the Magoffin County Health Department.

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