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Monongalia County health officer predicts progress as pandemic response rolls on

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Monongalia County’s health officer hopes to make additional progress this week with COVID-19 vaccinations.

Dr. Lee B. Smith (Photo/MCHD)

“Our weekly allotment for the health department is going from 340 to 780,” Monongalia County health officer Dr. Lee Smith told MetroNews affiliate WAJR-AM.

“What the hospitals bring to the vaccine will contribute to even greater numbers, so I look for us to continue to get a lot of vaccines out.”

Numbers from the state Department of Health and Human Resources show more than 30,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Monongalia County which is close to 30% of the population.

Smith said the pace has picked up in recent weeks.

“In six weeks time we did 7,000 vaccines In the last three weeks we have done 8,000, so we’re still limited by the number of vaccines being distributed,” Smith said.

A recent partnership between the Monongalia County Commission, Mon Health Systems and WVU Medicine has resulted in enough infrastructure to administer thousands of vaccines daily. The former Sears location at the Morgantown Mall is being used as a vaccination clinic.

Smith said Monongalia County is not seeing COVID-19 cases being caused by schools being in session for in-person instruction under a blended schedule. He said other schools on five-day schedules also have had no outbreaks.

“Parochial schools that have been open and we’ve not seen great swaths of infections occurring within them,” Smith said. “If you look south to Florida, they have had their public schools open since the beginning and they are not seeing big areas of infection or the need to shut down.”

The Monongalia County Board of Education previously set March 8 as the day in-person lessons would resume five days a week, but Gov. Jim Justice said Friday he’s urging the state Board of Education to order a return to in-person instruction for elementary and middle school students as quickly as possible. The board has a meeting scheduled for Tuesday morning.

Smith noted options for coronavirus testing have improved in Monongalia County. He said health officials are offering free testing Mondays and Fridays at the West Virginia University Rec Center.





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