Health Department administrator: Pandemic 'not going anywhere any time soon'
By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - “The last seven days have been worse than our worst month,” Mineral County Health Department administrator A.Jay Root said Wednesday of the county’s currently skyrocketing COVID-19 cases.
Meeting with the Mineral County Board of Education Wednesday, Root tried to put the recent rash of positives in perspective.
“At the end of September, we were doing really good,” he said of the county’s numbers, which at one point even dipped to sero.
“Right now, we’re pushing 70 cases,” he said. “We’re hitting double digits every day.”
Working with superintendent of schools Troy Ravenscroft throughout the pandemic to help keep students as safe as possible, Root said one of the problems is most of the schools do not have the space to allow for proper social distancing.
Noting that he is a parent and an athlete himself, he said he has especially had difficulty in trying to explain to students why they cannot be allowed to participate in such activities as the Mineral Bowl or state playoffs, or even stay in school.
One of the hardest things he’s had to do, he said, was to break the news to a Frankfort cross country runner and his family that he could not compete with his team in the state championships.
“It’s so hard to take these things away from these kids … but at this point, what we have to do is remote learning,” he said.
“My heart goes out to all the fall athletes,” board member Terry Puffinburger said. “I want them to know our thoughts are with them.”
“It is really, really hard,” board vice president Mary Jane Baniak agreed, noting that “what happens in a community affects our kids and we have to have our community step up” and follow the state safety guidelines.
“It’s being considerate for those who it’s going to affect,” Root agreed. “If we just come together as a community and do these simple things,” Root said. “If we can save our neighbor, if it can save a child, why would we not do it?” he asked.
Admitting that he thinks “the next two months are going to be challenging,” he said, “The pandemic is definitely real; it’s not going anywhere any time soon. “We’re going to have to adjust to get through it.”