Falling Covid numbers make local health departments restrategize

WTAP News @ 11
Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 10:13 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Local Covid trends are on the downward slope. WTAP talked to local health departments that are shifting focus in response.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department hasn’t seen Covid case counts this low since March of 2020 - when they first started case investigations, according to Community Health Director Malcolm Lanham.

The difference between this week and four to six weeks ago is palpable.

“One day we had seven cases come in - new cases that day...and I remember when we were getting 300 some cases in a day,” Lanham said, adding...“Some of that’s because of home testing. Some people are starting to learn to live with Covid and may not be getting tested.”

Lanham’s noticed a steep drop in long-term care facility outbreaks too.

The drop in numbers has made both the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department and the Washington County Health Department restrategize.

Washington County Health Department’s Administrator John Jackson said, “Several of the conversations we’ve had over the past couple weeks have been what is…what does the health department look like when everything isn’t concentrated on Covid?”

The Washington County Health Department is working on shifting their focus back to initiatives like tobacco education in schools and getting people active among other measures.

“We’ve got to become the health department that we were before Covid and getting back to some of those foundational things that we do very well,” Jackson said.

Lanham said full-time Mid-Ohio Valley staff are cutting back on Covid duties. Now that weight’s being shifted to new staff hired specifically for Covid or temp staff.

Still, Lanham is approaching the drop in cases with cautious optimism.

“It’s reason to be positive about it but I think we’re also at a point of cautious optimism right now because we’ve been through however many waves of variants that we’ve been through now as well,” he said.

According to the Washington County Health Department’s media contact, starting this week, the Ohio Department of Health will be releasing updates to its Covid data dashboard weekly rather than daily in response to falling numbers.

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