Kanawha County pandemic leader credits teamwork as county marks no new cases of virus

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Monica Mason, the deputy director and chief of medical services for the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority, says she wasn’t thinking about having no new cases of COVID-19 when she helped vaccinate the first Kanawha County resident last December, but she was grateful to get the word Thursday.

“It was very good news,” Mason admitted when MetroNews caught up with her Friday.

Dr. Sherri Young, (left) U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and Monica Mason with KCEAA speak with a worker at a January vaccination event.

It’s been 480 days since the first positive case was recorded in the state’s most populous county.

Mason said having at least one day of no new cases shows vaccinations work.

“It just gives us a sense that those that are becoming vaccinated are remaining healthy,” she said. “We don’t stop encouraging folks getting their COVID-19 vaccine.”

The ambulance authority has been one of the key partners in Kanawha County’s pandemic response, joining with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and others to schedule dozens of testing events first followed by vaccination clinics. Mason said the collaboration has been the key.

“The county commission, emergency management, Metro 911, City of Charleston, everyone coming together and working together as a team to test for COVID and then move into the vaccinations has been an entire team effort and collaboration,” Mason said.

The team chose an aggressive approach.

“We went to do COVID vaccinations in all areas throughout the county as well as our large clinics that we had at the Coliseum (Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center). We did the same thing with testing, going into the nursing homes to test, going into all municipalities, trying to put out those hot spots,” Mason said.

Kanawha County has had more than 15,600 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. Mason said the numbers would have likely been a lot higher without the teamwork approach, especially when the vaccines became available last December.

“We were just trying to deal with basically day-by-day, getting shots in arms, getting people vaccinated,” she said. “Now we are currently trying to get back to normal business.”

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