CHARLES TOWN—The delta variant of COVID-19 has been found in Jefferson County, which is a disturbing discovery considering half of county residents have not been vaccinated.

County health officer Dr. Terrence Reidy gave the news during the regular monthly meeting of county board of health members on Friday. Reidy said that two cases have been found so far but there may be more since results can take two weeks to come back.

“The health department has been giving only about five to ten Pfizer vaccinations a day. COVID testing is also down to about 10 or less a day from 60 to 70,” Reidy said.

According to various news reports, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Sunday that rises in COVID cases are taking place in unvaccinated parts of the country. West Virginia is not currently on the list.

In an interview, Reidy said the delta variant predominates worldwide and spreads quickly. Those who have not been vaccinated are more susceptible to it, he said.

“The health department offers vaccinations five days a week,” Reidy said.

However, the board spent the majority of the meeting discussing personnel matters. The health department has been without an administrator for about a year. Other staff members needed include a director of nursing.

“There is nothing more important than finding a new health administrator,” said John Bresland, board chairman. “This has to be a priority.”

The board has to get permission from the West Virginia Division of Personnel in Charleston before hiring can take place. Board members complained about the bureaucracy involved in Charleston, causing long delays. Gillian Beach, acting local health administrator for the health department, said getting grant monies can also be delayed.

“It can sometimes take six months before funds are available,” Beach said.

The board passed a motion to send a letter to the division of personnel in August requesting that starting salaries be raised. Discussion also took place concerning the hiring of a financial consultant to help with taxes and other budgetary issues.

A proposal to increase septic information fees to $25 was placed on hold because the public still has time for comments.

Some technical difficulties took place during the meeting. Zoom meetings had been done in the past but this was the first in-person meeting taking place since before the pandemic. Zoom was still being used.   

Friday was Bresland’s last meeting with the board after serving as chairman for six years. Bresland’s five-year term was over last year but he agreed to stay on one more year because of the pandemic. He gave his resignation letter to the county commissioners in June. A new chairman will be elected next month.

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