Health department asks for cooperation as COVID case numbers soar

Health department workers gear up to conduct COVID-19 testing.

Lewis County Health Director Anita Bertram is asking for cooperation and assistance as health department and other health care workers struggle to keep up with the recent escalation in COVID-19 cases.

Local health department workers are now testing only individuals who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 and those who have been exposed but are asymptomatic.

As of Friday evening, Lewis County has had 502 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 87 of those currently active. There have been 19 COVID related deaths.

“We have been inundated with the recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases in our area,” Bertram said Friday afternoon as workers conducted COVID testing for the final test session this week.

“We are at capacity,” she said.

Bertram said workers have also been forced to scale back the scope of contact tracing.

“If you test positive for COVID, we ask that you reach out to those with whom you have been in close contact and inform them to quarantine for 14 days since last seeing you,” she said.

Close contacts (family, friends, coworkers, etc.) are those who have been within six feet of you for 15 minutes or more beginning two days before your symptoms began or prior to your positive COVID-19 test.

“This is crucial to help slow the spread of this virus,” Bertram said. “We must all follow the recommendations and work together for the sake our our families and ourselves.”

She said efforts have been prioritized to effectively deal with the recent spike.

“We must identify and isolate new cases to slow the spread of this virus,” she said. “Right now there is an increased risk of exposure every time we interact with others within transmission range.”

“We are asking newly diagnosed cases to inform their close contacts of the potential exposure and the need to quarantine,” Bertram said.

“I urge everyone to become familiar with the steps to take if you are exposed to COVID-19 and if you have tested positive for COVID-19,” she said.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, chills, cough, tiredness, shortness of breath, headache, sore throat, and loss of smell, among others.

If you test positive for COVID-19 or think you may have COVID-19:

• You May Have COVID-19, Please Self-Isolate
Please stay home while you wait for your test result to prevent unknowingly exposing others. Your lab or medical provider will tell you if you test positive for COVID-19. They will also tell your Local Health Department. You should stay home and only leave to get medical care. Stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets. If possible, try to use a different bathroom.

• You May or May Not Have Symptoms
You may have symptoms or no symptoms at all. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, chills, cough, tiredness, shortness of breath, headache, sore throat, loss of smell, and more. If your symptoms worsen and you feel you need care, contact your medical provider.

• If You Test Positive, Your Help is Needed
If your test is positive, please follow the above self-isolation guidance. Also, please quickly notify your contacts as described below to stop the spread of disease. You may not receive a phone call from your Local Health Department so following this guidance is extremely important.
If you are called, please share your recent contacts and places you have been in the last few days to slow the spread.

• You Can Ask for Help
If you are sick, please contact your healthcare provider or seek medical care. Additionally, you can reach your Local Health Department by calling 1-844-KYTRACE.

If you were exposed to COVID-19:

If your Local Health Department (LHD) calls you, tell them:
– Basic information about you
– If you have COVID-19 symptoms and when they began
– Where you have been (work,school, church,etc.)
– If you need help
– Your medical history

If you develop any of these symptoms, get tested:
– Fever or chills
– Cough
– Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
– Fatigue
– Muscle or body aches
– Congestion or runny nose
– New loss of taste or smell
– Headache
– Sore throat
– Nausea or vomiting
– Diarrhea

Take steps to protect yourself and others:
– Stay home for 14 days even if you test negative
– Stay away from people you live with – use a separate room and bathroom, if possible
– Do not go to work, school, or other places outside your home
– Do not allow others into your home
– Ask friends or family to bring groceries, medicines, or supplies
– If you need support or help call your healthcare provider, health department, or 1-844-KYTRACE

Click HERE if you have been exposed to COVID-19
Click HERE if you have tested positive for COVID-19

Note: The Lewis County Herald has removed the paywall on coverage of COVID-19 related stories, providing critical information to our readers.
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