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Fayette County health administrator worried about Bridge Day safety

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — The administrator for the Fayette County Health Department believes the community is taking an unnecessary risk by staging the 2021 Bridge Day celebration.

Teri Harlan
(Photo courtesy of The Register-Herald)

Teri Harlan made her concerns clear during an emergency meeting of the Bridge Day Commission Wednesday.

“I just feel like it would be irresponsible to move forward with this event at this point because we know the situation our healthcare system is in currently,” Harlan told MetroNews Thursday.

However, her concerns were not enough to sway members of the Bridge Day Commission who voted 4-2 in favor of moving ahead and holding the 2021 event. Organizers who favored moving forward were concerned about missing the event and the revenue it brings to the region two years in a row. The 2020 event, like most things last year, was cancelled by Covid as well.

Harlan’s concerns were the impact the event will have on an already stressed healthcare system in her community.. She said the local hospitals are full and in some cases patients have been transferred out of state to get the care they need. The options for transfer to other places aren’t promising with the Delta Variant surge filling up hospitals everywhere.

Harlan added Bridge Day is a concentration of 100 thousand people and there are always emergencies.

“On average we have 35 people from Bridge Day who need to go to a hospital. It’s not only accidents related to Bridge Day, sometimes people will have a heart attack or some other medical need while they are on the bridge and will have to be transferred to a hospital,” she said.

“We are super concerned about where we are going to take these people when this happens. It’s just a big risk to be taking when we just don’t feel like it makes any sense to do that this year.”

Added to that stress will be Harlan’s staff which she expected would be dealing with the aftermath of Bridge Day for four more weeks amid contact tracing and testing.

But despite her concerns, the Commission voted to hold the event Oct. 16. Therefore, planning is underway to do the event in the safest manner possible.

“That’s going to be asking the state for some resources. We’re going to be talking about that in the next few days and determining what that ask will be, but we will definitely be requesting some additional resources,” Harlan said.

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