by Kate Evans
Area health care providers are reporting a surge in COVID-19 cases that are impacting local families and communities.
As of Monday, Morgan County had 161 total COVID-19 cases-148 confirmed and 13 probable, with 39 active cases and no deaths.
Washington County is reporting 2,376 cases of the virus and 47 deaths. Fulton County shows 95 known COVID-19 cases and four deaths as of Sunday, November 1.
Rise in cases, impact
Dr. Matthew Hahn of River Bend Family Medicine in Hancock said that they’ve seen a substantial increase in COVID-19 cases and the virus’ impact at his medical practice.
His office is dealing with COVID-19 in some way every day now. Some patients are being tested for coronavirus, or they have someone at home that’s ill with the virus, or they’ve been hospitalized with COVID-19.
Hahn said he dealt with having a COVID-19 patient in the hospital over the weekend and has another one that’s currently hospitalized. Hahn also said that they had lost one patient to COVID-19.
Most of their patients that have tested positive for the virus have gotten better on their own during quarantine at home, he said.
Mountaineer Community Health Center nurse practitioner Carlyn Duelley said the Paw Paw practice has seen COVID-19 cases at their clinic in the past month and have had several positive cases. The majority of the positive COVID-19 cases that she knows of have just had mild symptoms.
Mountaineer Community Health Center offers drive-in testing for COVID-19 every day through their private lab, Duelley said. People schedule an appointment and someone comes out to their vehicle and tests them.
Every Tuesday from 2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. they do the state-based COVID-19 testing. Their clinic prefers that people make an appointment for the Tuesday testing, but it’s not necessary, she said.
One problem Hahn’s practice is having is that people are being tested for COVID-19 without them knowing it. Their office does get lab results from some locations, but it’s not uniformly happening, Hahn said. Often patients tell them they’ve tested positive or negative, but sometimes patients haven’t gotten their results yet and his staff will look them up.
He noted that the biggest problem is the lack of coordination between the three states — West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania –between state agencies, hospitals, health departments and physician practices, especially with testing, results, sharing information and care.
“It’s the nature of the fractured health care system in the United States,” Hahn noted.
The system barely works, is now stressed from the COVID-19 pandemic and isn’t functioning well, which Hahn says isn’t surprising. Part of the issue is the decrease in funding for public health care.
Hahn said that the message had to be “Protect yourself.” There are no reliable treatments for COVID-19.
“The best thing is to not get this illness. Some get very sick,” he said.
Hahn said he’s had some patients that had all the risk factors for COVID-19 that didn’t get sick at all. He’s also had some patients that were asymptomatic that were screened for the virus due to the nature of their work and they were completely without symptoms.
“Some are completely well and some become deathly ill,” Hahn said.
At Hahn’s practice, there’s no waiting room. Staff calls you in your vehicle when it’s time for you to come into the office and they take your temperature before you come in. If patients are really sick, they see them upstairs. Hahn said if COVID-19 is suspected, they do a tele-health visit. He felt good about the virus safety precautions they’ve taken.
In the past six to eight weeks and especially the past month, Dr. Hahn said that it’s very clear and obvious that they’re seeing more of every aspect of the disease. They’re also hearing that the spread of the virus is picking up.
Hahn said his office isn’t seeing any flu right now-just some colds, bronchitis and sinus infections and a little bit of strep throat.
“The dominant concern right now is COVID-19,” Hahn said.
Hahn urged people to be really careful to protect themselves when they’re out. He said he’s almost as concerned now as he was in the beginning of the pandemic with the surge of COVID-19 cases after many months of minimal cases.
Duelley said it’s a little early for the Paw Paw clinic to be seeing flu or strep throat — their staff hasn’t seen any of either illness yet this season. They do get some patients with the regular viral illnesses that go around this time of year. These patients generally end up getting tested for COVID-19, but their illness usually resolves in a day or so.
Duelley said that the COVID-19 prevention recommendations are the same as what’s been said all along — wear face masks, wash your hands, keep your distance and stay home if you don’t feel good.