CABELL COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — The local health department in Cabell County is ramping up its efforts to curb COVID-19 in the area.
COVID-19 is spreading fast in Cabell County, and demand for testing is rising as well. So, to help people know their positivity status, the Cabell-Huntington Health Department is giving them more options to do so.
“The spread is really, really advanced. We’ve got a lot of community spread. We’re actually seeing case counts at or even possibly slightly higher than we had in the wintertime,” says Dr. Michael Kilkenny, M.D., M.S., CEO and health officer for the Cabell-Huntington Health Department.
According to the health department’s COVID-19 dashboard, Cabell County has a nearly 14 percent positivity rate.
“When you run a very high positivity rate, it can be either because…you have a lot of cases out there, a lot of people are positive and getting tested…[or] not enough testing going on,” Dr. Kilkenny says.
To supplement the rising demand for testing in the area and better track the spread, the health department opened another COVID-19 testing site on Marshall University’s campus, in a student parking lot off of 6th Avenue, in partnership with the school.
“We’re hoping that we can unload that long wait to get tested at one center and provide free testing for people…A lot of people are concerned about their exposure, a lot of people are concerned about how they’re going to get a test… If they don’t know that they’re infected, then they’re not staying home,” Dr. Kilkenny says.
Students we spoke with at Marshall acknowledge the risk is high right now, especially in large gatherings.
“We do have a pretty high vaccinated population of students, like last I checked it was 63 percent… Our positive weekly is not that high, but if we continue to have big social events like every day or like at least once a week, I feel like our positives will go up,” says Jaden Keith, a student at Marshall University.
“We have pretty strict mask guidelines, but at the same time, it’s hard to completely enforce it,” says Jackie Stanley, a student at Marshall University.
“We’re gonna have to stop this spread, and without a government mandate to stop it, it’s up to us. It’s up to all of us as citizens, living and working in our community to take care of each other and we’re capable of that,” Dr. Kilkenny says.
Dr. Kilkenny says everyone—including vaccinated people—should continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and get tested and quarantine if you are not feeling well or have been exposed in order to get the community back on track.