By Bobby Bordelon
Greenbrier County has likely seen its first case of community transmission of COVID-19, announced the Greenbrier County Health Department on Tuesday, June 16. This marks the first time someone has contracted the virus without having known exposure to other individuals with the disease within the county.
“We currently have 34 total known active cases of COVID-19 [in Greenbrier County],” reads a social media post from the Greenbrier County Health Department. “33 of these are linked to the [Graystone Baptist Church] outbreak. … There appears to now be community transmission related to the outbreak thus everyone needs to wear masks out in public and be vigilant about social distancing.”
As of Thursday, June 18, Dr. Bridgett Morrison of the Greenbrier County Health Department confirmed that, “despite all of our contact tracings, we have not” been able to establish a link between the case and the 33 others known in the county.
Most of the local cases have been found through contact tracing and the testing offered in Dorie Miller Park – beginning Friday, June 12, free testing was expanded to Monday, June 15, by Governor Jim Justice as the Graystone Baptist Church outbreak numbers continued to increase. The Graystone outbreak began with one out-of-state transmission case, and spread through interaction between members.
On Monday alone, 301 people were tested in Dorie Miller Park, bringing the total tested over the past week to 839. As of Thursday morning, all tests issued on Sunday and Monday returned with negative results.
“We have three from this outbreak that are hospitalized. There are two hospitalized locally,” Morrison said. When asked if they are expected to recover, she responded, it was “our hope, yes.”
Among the other 31 infected, symptoms range from moderate and mild to being completely asymptomatic. Morrison also stated their ages vary greatly, “from children to the elderly.”
In total, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is showing 42 cases of coronavirus reported in Greenbrier County as of Thursday, June 18. This number includes 9 previous cases from last month that have already recovered.
Those getting tested in Dorie Miller were asked to provide their basic and contact information before driving through to the testing site and putting their car in park. The test itself entails having a swab inserted into the nose, taking a sample from the nasal cavity. Although the Dorie Miller testing has come to an end, several sites in Greenbrier County will continue conducting tests.
“There’s three main clinics that are doing the testing; one is Robert C. Byrd Clinic, one is Rainelle Medical Center, and the other one is Med Express,” Morrison said. “They can always call the Health Department and we can facilitate that as well, but essentially any of those clinics can and are able to test.”
If you think you’ve been exposed, call the Greenbrier County Health Department at 304-645-1787.
“Anybody that has been tested is told to go home and self-quarantine until you get your results … because even if you are a negative, you’ve just protected so many people by not knowing in between [getting tested and getting the results],” said Theresa White, Regional Liaison for the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security.
Morrison and the Health Department emphasized the public should be wearing masks and engaging in social distancing, now more than ever in Greenbrier County. In addition, masks should be regularly cleaned or replaced.
“If your mask gets wet, you need to get a new mask,” Morrison said. “Ideally, you’re not going to be using the same mask every day, you’re going to be using one mask, taking it home and laundering it, then using another one. If you’re using the surgical masks, hopefully you’re saving those for healthcare providers, but if you are … you should be replacing them daily. If they get wet or damp, they need to be replaced.”