During the COVID-19 pandemic, our Local Health Authority has been working diligently to help combat the virus. With the current spike in cases Hopkins County is currently experiencing, Brynn Smith who serves as the Local Health Authority Nurse for Hopkins and Delta Counties has become very concerned.
She shared her concerns with KSST News, drawing a direct correlation between the public’s lax participation of social distancing and mask wearing to the higher number of positive COVID-19 cases as well as fatalities.
Smith stated in part, “My goal is to mitigate the spread of infection in the counties that we cover and do what I can in an effort to allow life to continue as close to normal. That cannot happen if people within our community are working in opposition to this goal. If one person is determined to be infectious, has not been wearing their mask or following social distancing recommendations it puts those around them in a position to where they must quarantine and could potentially become sick themselves.”
During the past few weeks, Hopkins County has had entire grade levels, sports teams, and workforce at businesses sent home for quarantine because of exposure. This could have been avoided by proper social distancing and the wearing of masks, according to the LHA nurse.
Brynn also explained how the state’s reporting data is delayed and doesn’t always give an accurate representation of what is actually occurring in our county. Unfortunately, this means that our actual cases are currently worse in Hopkins County than what the state is reporting with their delayed system. Hopkins County has been collecting and reporting positive antigen tests for the past several weeks to help residents have a clearer picture of positive cases.
KSST News also asked about those in leadership roles not adhering to State and CDC guidelines by wearing masks, etc. KSST was present at a recent Hopkins County meeting where the majority of county employees did not wear masks before, during or after the meeting. It is important to note, that the meeting was held in our County Courthouse, and everyone’s temperature is taken as they enter the courthouse.
But, the frustration of the appearance of non-participation was echoed by the Local Health Authority as Brynn Smith has seen relaxed compliance in businesses and other places as well.
“If you are in a role of leadership or mentorship, know that people look at you to see what you’re doing and will follow your direction, if you’re not masking or distancing neither will those that look up to you,” she said. “I’ve encountered many business that have stopped requiring their employees to mask and their main reason why was because those they look up to weren’t either, so why should they?”
KSST certainly agrees with her statement that in times like these we look to our leaders for this leadership. Even though these leaders may have the opportunity for more testing and monitoring than the general public, it is the appearance of their participation in all aspects of prevention that we want to follow.
Personally and professionally, those of us at KSST certainly understand that everyone has become “COVID-weary” from the pandemic. Not only, has the information been confusing but the daily barrage of too much information has made us all start to tune out listening to any information.
This is exactly the wrong time to tune out. The number of new cases is accelerating faster than ever, the number of fatalities continues to climb at the fastest rate that we have seen, and all of this is happening with delayed state data. These numbers are not wrong. These numbers have not been manipulated. Friends, family, co-workers and loved ones have died from COVID-19 in Hopkins County.
The rumors, explanations and reasons given on social media are not helping our situation. This is not a conspiracy theory that somehow every country in the world is making up the severity of this virus. Many people would like to believe that only very old and very sick people will die if infected and, although they are more likely to do so, we would hate for someone in your family who is relatively young and relatively healthy to disprove this for us all.
We all have to do our part, even if you are not 100% certain that masks are effective. I ask you to wear one for your family, friends, and even me, just in case they do prevent the spread.
Smith also reported that: “There is new evidence supporting that the virus is airborne spread during certain activities such as singing, yelling, etc. That is why, if in those situations, masks are very important. This explains why cases have spread so easily in churches, at sporting events, etc.”
She also said that personal responsibility is also key. If you know that you were around someone who has tested positive and fall within the high-risk exposure parameters, quarantine yourself. You don’t have to wait on someone to tell you that you were exposed.