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Threat Preparedness

Let's get this right so we can continue on the road to recovery

Let's get this right so we can continue on the road to recovery

May. 13, 2020

By Mary Wade Burnside


More cars are out on the roads. More stores are open.

Life seems a little more normal.

But things are definitely not back to normal.

As of today, Monongalia County has 114 COVID-19 cases and that figure is still rising. Testing is expanding and the statewide numbers are going up too.

We all are hoping our lives will resume and that we can go back to our regular activities.
But as much as we want that, we are not there yet.

And if we don’t follow some simple rules, COVID-19 cases might spike and then there might be a pause, or even a retreat, on opening up the economy again.

So why don’t we want to do this right? Why are there still people wandering the grocery stores without masks on?

The reason to do so is pretty simple: The mask an individual wears mostly protects other people. In turn, their fellow community members should mask up to help protect their neighbors. Add in social distancing of at least 6 feet, and that makes it very unlikely that one person would transmit COVID-19 to the other one.

Although when the COVID-19 pandemic began, a mask shortage prevented widespread use, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that anyone going out wear a face covering. By now, many groups have stepped up to create some of the cloth variety that have been distributed to members of the community. Bandannas also work and they can look pretty cool. 

Kieara Paige Snyder, a ninth grader at Clay-Battelle High School, did her part by stitching about 320 masks, according to her mother, Drue. She donated the masks to Monongalia County Health Department, which is participating in the MASKS4WV program started by the West Virginia Association of Local Health Departments. 

Clay-Battelle ninth-grader Kieara Paige Snyder with the masks she made.

“She was inspired to help because she wants to do her part and help during this crisis,” Drue Snyder said. “She wants to be a positive example for her peers. In a time of need like this, so many people sit back and watch it play out, rather than stepping up to the plate and trying their best to help.

“After all, we’re all in this together.”

Yes, we are all in this together. If a pandemic can have a positive impact on society, it should be by bringing folks together to fight this illness that can infect anyone.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t always been the case, as evidenced by the violence, including death, that has been bestowed upon employees across the nation when they tried to enforce the rules.

And then there is this example: A woman from another state was interviewed on national TV as she was protesting stay-at-home orders: “This isn’t fair to people who don’t have COVID-19.”

That’s a head scratcher. Where to begin? Anyone can get COVID-19. Just because you don’t have it now doesn’t mean you can’t get it later.

Also, because an estimated 1 in 4 people have no symptoms, and because you can spread the illness before showing any symptoms, it’s sometimes difficult to tell who has COVID-19. That protester could have had it and she could have been spreading it to others.

It’s been more than a week since Gov. Jim Justice’s stay-at-home order evolved into a “safer-at-home” order. More businesses are opening up.

While this is good news, it doesn’t mean we are out of the woods yet.

That’s why it makes sense for those who want to continue to see their favorite restaurants and shops back in business would do well to tread lightly and follow commonsense recommendations when they are out and about.

Wear a mask. Maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet from others. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Don’t leave your home if you are sick… even if it’s just a cold. You really are safer at home.

Adopting these practices will aid us as we get back on our feet. And it shows respect for your fellow community members.

​After all, we’re all in this together.

Mary Wade Burnside is the public information officer for Monongalia County Health Department.

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