Health Officials Continue to Stress Hygiene to Combat Virus Outbreak

by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Dr. Willenburg
Dr. Willenburg

Huntington -Health officials joined with Congresswoman Carol Miller Wednesday for a teleconference to discuss West Virginia's place in containing the COVID-19 virus. 

Drs. Larry Dial, chief medical officer,  and Kara Willenburg, medical director of infection prevention and antimicrobial stewardship, at Cabell Huntington Hospital, said West Virginia has been fortunate to have been the last to record a diagnosis, and no related deaths. They compared and contrasted numbers in the state to Louisiana, and metropolitan areas like New York City, and Los Angeles.

Dial speculated that the Mountain State's  already "rural" geography and a tendency for  social distancing combined with  "not as many travelers to New York City, Los Angeles or overseas"  helped hold down the count.   Louisiana has spiked. A resident told CNN that the social closeness of the just concluded Mardi Gras severely increased the mix and diversity. On the other hand, West Virginia continues to generally maintain social distancing.   One caller got a thumbs up for a tiny rural church holding a "drive in" styled  service wherein the speakers were on a stage and the attendees remained in their cars.    "It's a way of being in community without touching or breathing on each other," MIller said.   However, Dial and Willenburg noted West Virginia has the top risk rating for its high density of obesity , diabetes and heart disease. The slow spread will assist in lowering facility and equipment shortages.    Willenburg stressed that washing hands means "like a surgeon" , not simply turning on water, applying soap, and drying.  She added that trips to the grocery store or going out  should be "planned."  She suggested wearing plastic gloves at the store to prevent transmission, and upon return home, taking a shower, and washing clothes as a precaution.    Dial called the virus "a scary scenario" even as the state remains in the "containment" bottle where social distancing can slow the spread.  The spread comes from nose "droplets" especially from sneezing that can send a spray up to six feet.   Most counties with cases are in the single digits , other still have zero. Monongalia, home of West Virginia University, the count is at 60.    Some physicians continue to warn that the worst will comes in two to three weeks.    The relief package remains in debate held up in the Senate by four senators complaining that some employees collecting unemployment would make more money than working. Even President Donald Trump accepted, it's an incentive to keep people at home.    Individuals with IRS direct transfer will receive their stimulus first; others may wait a month for a check.