COVID-19 numbers continue to climb
First death reported, family says pre-existing health issues were to blame
Taylor County recorded its first COVID-19 related death.
On Friday, the Taylor County Health Department released a statement confi rming the death of a county resident “associated with COVID-19.”
“It is with great sadness that we announce that one of Taylor County’s community members has passed away from complications associated with COVID-19. We extend our deepest sympathies to the family, friends, and community,” said Patty Krug, health officer. “We continue to face extraordinary circumstances and continue to urge everyone that this virus is real, it is deadly, and we must continue to follow safer practices including the use of face coverings and social distancing. We are in this together, and together we will overcome these challenges.”
The release did not include the name or identifying information about the person who died stating “out of respect for the privacy of the individual and their family, we will not be disclosing any additional information.” Federal privacy laws including primarily the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) limits the amount of information health agencies and officials can release to the public.
The brother of the woman who died, issued a statement through Nicole Winchell, director of Hope Hospice and Palliative Care in Medford that his sister’s primary cause of death was not COVID-19.
The statement reads: “I, Fred Dorava, would like to let the public know that my sister recently died under the care of Hope Hospice and Palliative Care, INC. She has been listed as the first positive COVID death case in Taylor County. She was under Hope Hospice services for greater than one year due to severe dementia and heart disease. Over the last three months, she was losing weight due to not eating well. I knew her death was going to be soon. My sister had the best care we could ask for with Hope Hospice and Deerview Meadows. I was informed, due to potential exposure, that she was tested after death for the COVID-19 virus and that the test was positive. I feel it is my duty to let the public know about my sister’s other major health issues as well. Thank you to Hope Hospice and Deerview Meadows for the excellent care you gave my sister. She died of complications of dementia, heart failure and age.”
According to Winchell, she assisted Dorova in getting this message out about his sister because she felt releasing it only as a COVID-19 related death without disclosing the underlying medical conditions would make people unduly afraid.
Not going away
COVID-19 continues to move through the Taylor County population. Health officials continue to caution that it is likely to be spread by individuals who do not even know they are ill.
According to the county health department “It is critical that all Taylor County residents keep taking social distancing seriously and follow Emergency Order #1 requiring the use of face coverings.”
As of Monday, Taylor County has had 71 individuals test positive for COVID-19. According to Krug, this total is distinct individuals. She noted that in some cases, people may have had multiple tests done, but that these duplicate positive tests are not included as part of the cumulative total number of positive cases. This total also does not include anyone who has received a positive antibody test for the virus. “We don’t follow those people at all,” Krug said, explaining how the county collects the data that is sent on to the state and national government.
“It amazes me that more people are concerned with the number than that people died from COVID-19,” Krug said, noting the numerous questions about the data released by her office.
Krug explained that of the 71 unduplicated positive cases the county has had, that 21 have recovered. She said that under Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines this means that it has been 30 days since the individual showed symptoms. She said as of Monday there were 15 active cases among county residents, these are people being actively checked on during their quarantine period as well as three county residents currently hospitalized with COVID-19. The remainder, Krug explained, are past their quarantine period but within the 30 days to be officially considered “recovered” per CDC guidelines. In addition to the positive cases, the county health department must also follow up with disease investigation where they contact individuals who have been exposed and who are showing symptoms. “We make daily contact and follow up with those individuals,” Krug said. In addition to those duties, the health department staff is conducting contact tracing investigations for people who may have been exposed. However, as the caseload increases in the county, they may not have the staff resources to continue the contact tracing.
The health department is also working closely with area school districts as they prepare for the start of the school year.
“Our role is to ensure the schools are looking at the best practices,” Krug said, noting the schools are also receiving guidance from the state as well as the WIAA. “Things change on a daily basis,” she said.
Krug continues to advise people to exercise caution. Face coverings, social distancing, and staying home are some of the only ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
71 — Number of positive cases: 1,941 — Number of people with negative results 1— Number of cases who have died As of 8/10/2020