By Lyra Bordelon
Although the COVID-19 pandemic might feel like it is in its last days, this is far from the case. Several more contractible and spreadable strains of the virus are present in Greenbrier County, and local leaders urge as many people to take the vaccine as possible.
The Greenbrier County Courthouse is lessening restrictions for those coming into the building, such as the increased security presence needed for temperature checks and other precautions. This is not a removal of all requirements however.
“We set up some guidelines quite some time ago for the courthouse,” explained Commission President Lowell Rose. “Extra guards at the front door for checking temperatures, taking down names, all those different things. … I think it’s time we went back to our standard. We’ll still require a mask for anyone that comes in, but we drop that back to our standard procedure at the door to relieve us from having the extra time and manpower it takes to do that.”
This does not mean that no precautions are being taken, hence the mask requirement, and Rose emphasized the need for vaccinations.
“We had a spike up recently in cases that’s coming back down,” Rose said. “We’ve got several people in the hospital with COVID. … We don’t have any one thing that is creating this [outbreak], we have this third and fourth strain of COVID in the county now and it is much easier to get and transmit. That’s part of it. … I would urge everyone to get vaccinated. It’s for their own protection and would stop it from going on and on and on.”
Both Rose and Commissioner Tammy Shiflett-Tincher also noted several courthouse employees had not been vaccinated yet, despite the eligibility, so personal precautions would be a priority.
“I do feel like we need to make sure people are still wearing their masks if possible,” said Tincher. “We have cases coming up and not everybody in the courthouse is vaccinated. I would caution people to still wear their masks.”
In a recent open letter on their social media page, the Greenbrier County Health Department emphasized that the state numbers, and other nationally reported numbers, are taken from their data, and to stay up to data, one should follow their local officials. The full statement reads:
As of this morning, GCHD has given out a little over 16,000 vaccines in our county alone. Per our calculations, our community partners have given out another 5000 additional doses. For those that follow the state DHHR site, they are working on the site but it is not current and there are discrepancies in those numbers. Our (Greenbrier County Health Department) numbers are accurate.
In our county, we have had less than 10 people who have gotten at least one vaccine that have also gotten Covid 19 infection. We only know of 2 people that have been considered ‘fully immunized’ and have contracted the virus in our county. Both of those individuals had a very mild illness and did not require hospitalization.
To be considered fully immunized, you must have either received both Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the one-time Johnson and Johnson vaccine and be at least 14 days out from the last vaccine.
These are remarkable statistics!
Yes, you can still get Covid 19 infection if you have been fully immunized. In layman’s terms, 95% Efficacy means that out of 100 people, 95 people will not get infected, the 5 people that do become infected do not have a bad illness. The studies are ongoing as to whether those people that are immunized and get infected with Covid 19 are infectious and can be contagious.
One of the biggest and concerning things that we are seeing is the long-term effects from having Covid 19 infection. Approximately 40% of people (all ages including our children) that recover from Covid 19 have long term cardiac and pulmonary problems.
40% is alarming.
The Pfizer vaccine is approved for 16 years and older currently. It is anticipated that the FDA will be lowering the age down to 12 years of age sometime within the next few weeks.
Covid 19 infection rates are starting to go up again in our county and others. Hospitalization rates are also starting to go up.
Despite starting strong in our county and state with the vaccination efforts, we have reached a lull and are running out of available arms to put shots in. In order to travel internationally, you will be required to show proof of vaccination, and many employers are also moving forward with these requirements.
There are many reasons to get vaccinated. Please get vaccinated so that we can protect ourselves, our families, and our community. If you want to get vaccinated, please call us! We will even come to your business or special events if there are enough people interested.
Together we can fight this!
Greenbrier County vaccination efforts also recently received positive national attention from NPR. “Biden Administration Reaches Out To Rural Americans To Get Vaccinated” by Tamara Keith includes an interview with WVSOM and Greenbrier County Health Alliance rep Julian Levine about vaccination efforts as part of the piece, highlighting the county’s successful approach.
The segment, broadcast as part of Morning Edition, said:
TAMARA KEITH: And when it comes to success stories, there often aren’t any federal government fingerprints at all. In Greenbrier County, W.Va., getting people vaccinated became a big community-wide volunteer effort.
JULIAN LEVINE: We have yet to – and I’m sure about this – we have yet to lose a dose.
KEITH: Julian Levine works at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, which has been helping the county go all out. Sometimes that meant running the Saturday vaccine clinic extra late or, in one case, the county health officer and her staff took doses over to a local restaurant to make sure they didn’t go to waste.
LEVINE: Really, it’s connecting to people that we know one on one and through Facebook and knowing the people downtown so I can call the 22-year-olds who might not show up and say, you have to show up or I’m going to come find you.
KEITH: These are the very sorts of things the Biden administration is trying to encourage.