Health Department continues fight against COVID-19

Published 5:00 am Thursday, June 20, 2024

By Terry L. Hapney, Jr.
The Ironton Tribune

Lawrence County Health Department (LCHD) Administrator Debbie Fisher says the dominant COVID-19 variant circulating now is KP.2.
“The more it spreads it changes,” Fisher said.
During the last two weeks of May, KP.2 was responsible for 28.5 percent of all COVID-19 cases. There are many strains of COVID-19, according to Fisher, who said it is likely to become like the flu and colds.
“A lot of colds are caused by coronavirus,” Fisher said. “As it circulates, it will become a lot like that.”
In March, the CDC provided guidance grouping COVID-19 with flu and other respiratory illnesses.
“They were all linked together in terms of how to deal with it,” Fisher said.
The “greatest” protection against COVID-19 is the vaccine, according to Fisher.
“It’s a very good way to protect yourself against the disease being severe enough to be hospitalized or die,” she said. “Another way is to wash your hands frequently. When I was in nursing school, we learned the best way to stop disease is to wash your hands.”
Staying healthy, healthy eating, getting plenty of sleep and exercising regularly are all ways to prevent and/or minimize the impact of COVID-19.
“All the things we can do to protect ourselves every day are ways to help keep our immune system strong so that these germs don’t hurt us as badly as they might otherwise,” Fisher said.
While she does not believe this strain will get any more severe than others, Fisher said the symptoms are the same—stuffy nose, runny nose, cough, congestion and fever.
“Basically, they are the same as any other respiratory illness and for other COVIDs,” she said.
While the number of COVID-19 cases has dropped, there are still hospitalizations from it. Fisher said the Ohio Department of Health currently lists Lawrence County as 13th out of 88 counties in the state for the highest number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.
Since January 1, 2020, Lawrence County has had 28,022 COVID-19 cases, with 1,368 hospitalizations and 301 deaths.
“That’s from the onset of this,” Fisher said.
From Jan. 1, 2024, Lawrence County has had 814 COVID-19 cases, 21 hospitalizations and three deaths—the last one a couple of months back. This past week, Lawrence County had six COVID-19 cases.
“That’s pretty good,” Fisher said. “It’s still more than we’d like. It’s probably not as many as what we might really have. When people self-test, they don’t always call and let us know.”
Fisher said if someone has COVID-19 and goes to a doctor, providers are required by law to report that to the Health Department. She said there are messages on the LCHD website and Facebook page asking people if they test positive to let them know.
Recalling the early days and months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fisher said those who had it stayed in for 14 days. Now, the LCHD staff provides guidance based on the CDC recommendations released a few months ago.
“Stay home if you’re having symptoms,” Fisher said. “If your symptoms are better after 24 hours and you are fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medicines, then you can go back to normal activities.”
The caveat with that is those who have COVID-19 should take precautions for the next five days.
“Wear a mask if you’re able,” Fisher said. “If you’re around a lot of people, that’s probably a good idea.”
Fisher said after five days, a person who had COVID-19 is, typically, not contagious. The potential for serious illness and death, she said, is not as much as it was because “so many more people are either vaccinated or they had it and have some resistance to it.”
For those who may have COVID-19 who self-test, their physician will likely want to conduct a confirmatory test. One course of action is for a physician to prescribe Paxlovid, the antiviral used for COVID-19 cases.
“It’s amazing,” Fisher said. “I had COVID in 2021; I was so sick. I started Paxlovid and within 12 hours there was such a difference.”
Fisher said if someone gets COVID-19, the person should stay home, rest, treat the symptoms and reach out to a doctor for other treatments.

Email newsletter signup