Calhoun County Health Officer Eric Pessell was a guest on the WBCK Morning Show with Tim Collins on Monday, and the news could be better.   “We’re at 2026 cases as of Monday Morning.  We cracked the 2000 mark.  It took just 38 days to go from 1000 to more than 2000 cases, but the real number that concerns me is that we have 26 people in the hospital and that is a significant increase over the last several months.  If it keeps going up at the current rate, then we’re going to be in some trouble.”

More than a third of recent cases are being blamed on people getting together for events and not taking precautions.  “Gatherings like weddings, anniversaries, and birthday parties, and every time we have an outbreak we don’t have people practicing any of the safety protocols.  They’re not wearing masks and social distancing.  But we haven’t had a single outbreak yet where everybody was wearing a mask and staying six feet apart.”

Pessell says they’re not guessing about gatherings being the cause of so many outbreaks either.  He says they’re able to investigate each, and gather information.   “The problem is that a 40 person outbreak at a wedding doesn’t stop there.  Those folks transfer it at home and work, and we’ve seen a 40 person wedding lead to 180 infections.”

We asked Pessell if the Health Department has enough budget and manpower to keep up with contact tracing?    “Oh, no.  We had to enlist the help of the state health department and they have an army of people and they are doing a tremendous job of helping us out. I don’t have anywhere near the staff to handle a thousand to twelve hundred calls a day.”

Pessell says the contract tracing is typically done by phone.  “We want to speak to them to find out if they’re doing ok, and don’t need any further medical attention.  Typically we’re looking at our higher-risk folks and try to talk to them once or twice per day.  But everyone needs to be contacted, especially those in quarantine.  If they start to become symptomatic, we want to get them tested right away and do more contact tracing so we can quarantine others.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci stated a few days ago that Americans might have to “bite the bullet” and skip Thanksgiving celebrations this year.   But Pessell says there are two ways you can go about it.  We can either avoid the get-together and have smaller groups.  But he says we can have the larger get-togethers if we’re smart about it.  “How about wearing a mask most of the time, except when we’re eating?   And why not try to stay socially distanced?  I think there’s a way to do it.  We can be safe and smart about it.  But remember, our family that doesn’t live in our house is no different than a stranger that doesn’t live in our house when it comes to COVID.  We don’t know if they’ve picked it up somewhere.”

We joked that this year, instead of the kid’s card table in the corner, families might want to use a card table in every corner!  It might not be a bad idea.

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