High Covid case numbers stretch Health Department

The pandemic has been a constant numbers game for 2 years now, but the game is now changing a little. 

With the extremely contagious Omicron surging, Hampshire case numbers have gone through the roof. Daily, new case numbers have been hovering between 30 and 40, with occasional spiking, like on Jan. 6, when the county saw 85 new cases, and Jan. 10, when case numbers hit 53. 

With such high case numbers, health department director Tamitha Wilkins said the process for communicating with positive individuals is now shifting a little bit.  

“It’s nearly impossible to call everyone,” she said. She added that the highest priority positive cases to contact are the individuals under 18 years old, “because it affects the schools.” 

The county also recorded its 62nd Covid-related death on Jan. 6, a 69-year-old Romney woman who was hospitalized at the time of her death. 

The high case numbers here reflect the numbers nationwide. Nationally, new Covid cases per day have tripled over the last few weeks, though some medical experts have recommended shifting focus to cases of serious illness and hospitalization, and not simply positive cases. 

And now, since home Covid tests are becoming more and more mainstream, the numbers just aren’t showing the reality anymore, Wilkins pointed out. 

“With home tests, we’re getting inaccurate numbers,” she said. “We only get what comes from the doctors…actual cases and active cases are not real accurate right now.” 

Monitoring positive case numbers can point to hotspots or indicate waves of infection, but focusing on hospital admissions more than positive case numbers can give doctors and medical personnel more information on how to best equip the hospitals and shift equipment. 

The Hampshire County Health Department shared on Sunday that their case investigators are officially unable to contact every single individual that tests positive for the virus, though they will be utilizing text message communication where available. 

“It’s time to do something a little different,” Wilkins said. 

If you have taken an at-home Covid test, and the result is positive, the Health Department asks that you call the Covid-19 hotline, which operates 24/7: 1-800-887-4304. 

Covid testing will be available at the hospital today, tomorrow and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. o

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