Henry County seeing more steady increase in coronavirus cases

MT. PLEASANT — Henry County is seeing a more steady increase in cases, public health director Shelley Van Dorin reported at a board of health meeting on Thursday.

During a COVID-19 update, Van Dorin reported the county had 118 cases to date. Whereas in months past, the rise in cases has been more of a “trickle,” the director reported the county was consistently hearing of new cases every day.

“We get one, two to three every day right now. I don’t know what’s going on,” she said. Van Dorin noted the state had gained 20,000 new cases since the board last met in late June.

Following the update, board member Dr. Tom Bainbridge asked about contact tracing plans for the county’s schools as the fall semester approaches.

Van Dorin said the department has been working closely with all local districts.

“We have all looked at their return-to-learn plans. They are all very inclusive and very good, but we just still do not know what will happen,” she said. “There’s just so many unknowns as to how long it’s going to take to get an outbreak or how many outbreaks we’ll have.”

Van Dorin explained to board members in an instance of close contact, a student will be asked to quarantine for 14 days, even with a negative test. The public health director noted tests are “just a snapshot it time,” and a negative test just assures a person is negative “that minute, that day” and does not ensure symptoms will not appear later.

“A negative test can give a false sense of security,” Van Dorin added.

Bainbridge asked about schools dropping 100 percent attendance awards to discourage students from going to school even when feeling ill.

Board member Sue Weiss, who serves as a nurse for the Mt. Pleasant Community School District, said the district had discussed getting rid of attendance awards and ensured to bring up the issue with the district again if necessary.