The pandemic reached a new level of concern for officials Tuesday when a Scott County long-term facility found 24 residents and six staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

“It has just gotten real for them,” said Dr. Crystal Miller, public health director for the WEDCO Health District, said of the facility and its managers and residents.

The 75-bed facility was part of a system-wide testing protocol which revealed the positive cases, she said. Miller declined to name the facility.

“Most of the residents are asymptomatic, but they have been isolated,” she said. “We have procedures in place to protect first responders because obviously that can become an issue.

“This can turn quickly. When we had a nursing home in Harrison County experience an outbreak, within days 60 percent of the hospital beds were occupied.”

So far, no hospitalizations have been required, but precautions are being taken.

The news of the outbreak comes as Scott County experiences its eighth day of double digit confirmed cases over the past nine days. Through Wednesday, the county has 372 total cases of COVID-19, including 128 new cases since the streak began. To date, there have been nine hospitalizations in the county, a number that bears watching, Miller said.

No deaths have been reported in the county.

“So far, the hospitalizations have been limited to one or two days,” she said. “But that is a critical statistic.”

The county’s current outbreak has been traced to a church camp in Ohio and trips to hot spot areas, Miller said.

“We also have a high Hispanic population, and they are very familial,” Miller said, explaining the area’s spike in coronavirus cases. “It all goes back to people living in close quarters, not exercising social distancing and the other precautions.

“We know what to do, we just have to do it.”

As the pandemic has progressed, the symptoms seem to have changed, she said. Fever with COVID-19 is not as common as a loss of taste and smell, fatigue and stomach issues, she said.

She noted Nicholas County, which is also covered by WEDCO, experienced its first death this week. The patient was fine on Sunday and was out and about. On Monday, they began feeling ill and passed away on Wednesday, she said. Nicholas County has had only 22 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, according to the WEDCO Facebook page.

The Scott County Detention Center remains on lock-down, but it appears the outbreak has been contained,” said Jailer Derran Broyles.

“I don’t want to jinx myself, but it seems we have it contained to three cells,” Broyles said.

At its peak, 14 inmates tested positive for the coronavirus, but most were asymptomatic, he said.

“We had one inmate who began experiencing respiratory distress, so we took him to the hospital,” Broyles said. “They gave him an oxygen enabler and sent him back, and he was fine after that.”

The jail will not accept any more inmates for at least another week,. the jailer said.

“The CDC protocols call for retesting every 14 days,” he said. “We retested the first positive inmate 15 days later and he still tested positive, so we’ll retest him again next week.”

With the start of school just weeks away, Miller said this is a critical moment for Scott County. She has been meeting with school officials, putting protocols in place, but ultimately it requires everyone’s cooperation, she said.

‘If we want to get the economy reopened, we have to do the basics, wear a mask, wash your hands and observe social distancing,” Miller said. “It’s inconvenient, but it’s not hard.  

“If we want to get back to normal, we have to follow those guidelines.”

 

Mike Scogin can be reached at mscogin@news-graphic.com.

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