With the current surge of COVID-19 cases in Barbour County, it is likely some people are staying the course, some are confused as to what to do next and many may have just given up on learning more. Our group has composed a list of FAQ and answers that can help clarify certain key information that impacts our county.
The county extension service is working to find a date in the near future for a call-in information session that we hope local groups will promote to members and friends. This should be the best and safest way to have a session a number of people will be able to attend.
Thank you to everyone who contributed information to the following document. This information will be available on the NAACP web page.
Barbour County Against Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions
1. I am immunized and have had my booster. Am I at risk for COVID-19 with the current surge in Barbour County?
As you can tell from national news, many fully immunized adults are having break through infections with the Omicron variant and some with Delta. These infections tend to be mild. It is not clear how contagious a vaccinated person with a breakthrough infection is to others. If you do test positive for COVID-19 it is recommended that you isolate for 5 days. Since there is a risk for you to get infected, it is advisable to wear a good mask- N95 if possible- when indoors or in a crowd where the vaccination status of others is unknown. If you are at a high medical risk, you will likely need to avoid crowds, continue to wear a mask and social distance.
2. I have had COVID in the past but have not had the vaccine. What is my risk?
Information indicates that having Delta may not protect you well against Omicron. Having Omicron may not protect you well against Delta. If you had an early version of the virus your ongoing immunity is not as strong as if you get vaccinated. The current recommendation is to get the vaccine.
3. I am not vaccinated and have no medical risk factors. Omicron is milder than other variants. What is my risk?
Community spread in Barbour County is High at this time with 229 positive cases in the last week. Omicron is the most dominant strain of COVID-19 in the state, but other strains may still be present. Unvaccinated people are at more risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Your best option is to be vaccinated, but if not wear a good mask, social distance and have you and close contacts get tested if COVID-19 symptoms develop.
4. Which COVID-19 test should I take? What do the results mean?
There are 2 types of tests for COVID-19- the rapid home test and the PCR test which must be processed in a lab. Medical Center Barbour uses PCR which is used to diagnose COVID-19. The rapid test is better at determining if you are currently contagious with COVID-19. Consult your healthcare provider if you test positive or if based on your symptoms you need to know what test is best for you.
5. What should I do if I get COVID-19?
After contacting your healthcare provider, people with no symptoms or mild symptoms are asked to isolate for 5 days and wear a mask when around others. Providers will give you information on when or if to go to the hospital for symptoms such as difficulty breathing or high fever.
6. What good does isolation or mask wearing do since we have so many people not wearing masks and you don’t know their vaccination status?
The easiest way to address this issue is to know your personal risk and the risk of those in your immediate circle. For fully immunized and boosted groups with no children under age five, protective measures can help prevent you and your group from getting mild disease or spreading it to others. For the non-vaccinated, the primary risk is to themselves and others who are not vaccinated. If you live or work with adults at high risk or children under five, protective measures will help prevent viral spread.
7. If I get a vaccine now, when will I be protected?
Optimal protection is after 2 vaccines 3 to 4 weeks apart and a booster 5 to 6 months later. Starting to be vaccinated now is not likely to be protective from the current community spread but it will help with expected surges that will continue until a large majority of people have protection. We are only at about 50% fully protected in Barbour County which puts us at high risk for spread at this time.
8. How are schools, businesses and the hospital being impacted by COVID-19 today?
Eufaula Schools are having students and teachers wearing masks and will be tracking positive COVID-19 cases. City schools are currently holding in person classes. County Schools have elected to go virtual and have some staff shortages. Larger businesses are looking at the vaccine mandates. Many businesses in town are likely to have staffing shortages and some are being impacted by supply chain issues cause by the virus worldwide. Hospital utilization at Medical Center Barbour is up with the current surge. Locally, we are not yet facing serious problems due to the surge, but the situation will need to be monitored. Everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated, wear good masks and get tested if you have symptoms or close exposure to COVID-19.
9. How can I limit the impact of COVID-19 in the future?
Vaccinations are the best and easiest way to impact COVID-19 ’s impact long term. Equally helpful is encouraging others to be vaccinated and/or to take all necessary precautions during times of high transmission.
10. What does the current surge mean for holding events in Barbour County?
One answer is not going to work for all types of events or organizations. Outside events will have less opportunity for spread but in colder weather people may congregate in smaller indoor spaces pre or post event. Some groups have a high vaccination rate or large enough spacing for continued social distancing which will allow them to continue with in person meetings. To date the MKL parade is being cancelled as we look at the surge most likely peaking during this timeframe.
11. I hear more children are being hospitalized with COVID-19. What is the risk to my child?
While most children will have mild infection if they do get COVID-19, some children will be at more high risk- including those with special needs or underlying medical conditions. Vaccines are now available for 5 to 18 year olds with boosters now authorized from ages 12 to 18 years. Minimizing risks for children is often not easy because of the various types of exposure they will have from the community, family contacts and school. Keeping the environment stable and having those around them vaccinated is the best option at this time. Eufaula City Schools are requiring student and teacher masks. Barbour County Schools are currently virtual. Schools monitor case numbers and make recommendations based on the numbers.
Information sources: CDC, Alabama Department of Public Health, Local Organizations