BUCKHANNON — Upshur County’s Board of Health met Thursday evening to discuss, among other things, the local impact of COVID-19 and the harm-reduction program.
It was reported that approximately 3,000 residents of Upshur County had received vaccinations, largely thanks to the community clinics that have been operating out of the National Guard Armory for several weeks now. So far, only the Pfizer vaccine has been given in Upshur County, but the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department looks for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires a single shot, to be arriving in West Virginia within the month.
While the overall numbers of COVID-19 cases have decreased in Upshur and surrounding counties, health officials continue to urge caution after the UK strain of the virus was discovered in north-central West Virginia. As of Thursday, there were 31 active COVID-19 cases in Upshur County and that number reportedly decreased to 28 by Monday evening. The county’s death toll attributed to the pandemic now totals 29, although Health Department officials report that hospitals have been slow to notify them of COVID-related deaths.
Upshur County’s harm-reduction program was also discussed briefly. Informally known as ‘needle-sharing’ programs, harm-reduction programs reportedly help to prevent illness and death among drug users by providing them with clean needles and fentanyl test strips. The program had 11 new participants in 2020, for a total of 51 unique participants; altogether, there were 222 visits to the program in 2020. There were no confirmed cases of HIV or Hepatitis C among the participants reported. The harm-reduction program also distributed over 130 Naloxone kits and has applied for a grant from the Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon.