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Commission talks about COVID-19

Copley: False positives are expected, not widespread

At the Tuesday meeting of the Lawrence County Commissioners on Facebook, Lawrence County Health Department director Georgia Dillon asked the community for their help in making sure the school year can go forward by isolating themselves if they think they have COVID-19.

“We have worked diligently with the schools, they have great plans and we have had a few bumps, but the biggest thing is if you are being tested for COVID-19 or sick, don’t get on a bus, go back to school or back to work,” she said. “We want the schools to be successful. So much planning has gone into each, individual school district and this will prevent the spread of COVID in the schools.”

She recommended people isolate themselves if they think they have the coronavirus or are waiting for results since the spread of COVID-19 in a family is “very, very high. The transmission rate is very high. We are starting to see community spread.”

Dillon recommended caution during the upcoming Labor Day weekend when families gather.

“You think that everyone is safe, but you do not know that,” she said. “Be very cautious and careful about the spread of COVID-19.”

After the Fourth of July holiday, Lawrence County saw a big increase in COVID-19 cases.

Before the Fourth of July, the county had 72 cases. Three weeks later it tripled to 223 cases.

One citizen asked about the accuracy of the COVID-19 tests.

Commissioner Dr. Colton Copley said he believes the local numbers are accurate because locally, the hospitals are using the more accurate PCR test.

“There is no test that is 100 percent accurate, so he is correct there could be some false positive testing,” he said. “But that comes with any test, flu swabs, strep tests. But there is a very small percentage of false positives when you are doing viral PCR testing versus some of the other rapid tests.”

He said doctors are still learning a lot about COVID-19 and how it affects the body, such as professional basketball players being monitored for changes to their hearts because of the virus.

“There are a lot of things that are up in the air and being learned,” he said. “But I think the numbers that we have presented in Lawrence County are representative, truly, of the number of cases and not necessarily false positives. And the unfortunate deaths we have had, I think based on conversations, are due to respiratory due to COVID-19.”

Copley said that rapid COVID-19 tests are more right than they are wrong, otherwise they wouldn’t be used and that they are 85-90 percent accurate and that is why they aren’t used all the time. The PCR test are much more accurate with a 98-99 percent accuracy.

“There is no test that is 100 percent, that is not the nature of life in general or in medicine,” he said.

He added that if someone has a respiratory condition like COPD, COVID-19 will exacerbate it and cause death.

“We said it from the beginning, people with health problems, underlying lung problems, underlying asthma or COPD, diabetes, hypertension, will be at more risk for COVID-19,” Copley said.

“It doesn’t mean they died of COPD if they had COVID-19, it’s the combination. They died of both.”

The commissioners approved the release of $171,000 for a sidewalk project along Marion Pike in Coal Grove. The money is a Community Development Block Grant that come from the state.

Among the items on the agenda, the commissioners appointed Kimberly Carrico, urban/education specialist for the Lawrence County Soil and Water Conservation District, to represent the county as a flood plains administrator.

The commissioners will not meet next week because of the Labor Day holiday. The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Sept. 15.