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By Carmen Ensinger
While the community is divided over the wearing of masks and the need to get vaccinated, the Greene County Health Department continues to report the harsh reality of COVID-19 twice a week.
The reality last week was that six people in Greene County died as a result of the virus – more than was ever reported during the height of the virus back in November of last year.
“We now give out a report on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Greene County Health Department Public Health Administrator Molly Peters said. “We reported one death on Tuesday and five more on Thursday. Sadly, I don’t recall ever having to report that many all at once in all of last year.”
The big question on everyone’s mind is if those who succumbed to the virus, or who are the most seriously ill, have been vaccinated.
“Based on the hospital information that is provided to us, the majority of those that haven’t participated in the vaccine program are the ones that are experiencing the most severe hospitalizations and death,” Peters said. “There have been deaths where people have been severely immune compromised who have died who have been vaccinated, which is why they have determined there needs to be a third dose of the vaccine for those people.”
Peters said their clinic is able to administer the third dose, or booster, vaccine.
“Right now, the advisory committee on immunization practices is meeting to determine a booster for individuals that are 65 and up and there will be more information about that upcoming because it still has to be finalized,” she said. “We should also keep in mind that there are a couple of different vaccines out there and the information will come out per the vaccine for now because they are all coming out at different times.”
Peters said currently 33 percent of the county is fully vaccinated. Far from the 70 to 75 percent it is believe it will take to achieve herd immunity to the virus.
“The data is shown everywhere,” Peters said. “By getting a vaccine, it significantly reduces chances of severe illness and hospitalization. Yes, there may be breakthrough cases, but they are very limited in comparison.”
For that matter, even someone who has had COVID in the past is not immune to getting COVID again, and again, and again. There is no perfect immunity to a virus that keeps mutating.
Peters said currently, Greene County is seeing an average of around 10 new COVID cases a day.
“Compared to last year, our highest number of active cases happened in November,” she said. “As the weather gets cooler and we get more and more activities indoors, our cases may go up. We are still encouraging individuals who are sick to stay home and if you have been around someone with COVID to get tested and to quarantine away from others so we don’t continue to see the increase in our numbers.”
As of Sept. 16, there are 75 active COVID cases in the county and there has been a total of 60 deaths from the virus.