The Breeze headline on April 30, 2020 read: “Putnam COVID-19 Cases Jump 37.5%.” The heading, while 100% accurate, may have caused some to believe that the virus was more prevalent than it really was. Putnam’s actual case number increased from 16 to 22 during the last week of April 2020.
On Tuesday, April 27, 2021, the latest 7-day new case number was 94, — 15.7 times greater than the last week of April 2020. The presence of the coronavirus is 16 times greater now than one year ago but the fear of the virus is less now than it was in 2020.
Much of the fear which existed in 2020 was fear of the unknown. Nonessential workers were confined to home. Schools, other than providing free lunch, were basically shutdown.
Fast-forward to the present. Most nonessential workers have returned to their places of employment. Schools, with few exceptions, are providing in-person instruction.
One year ago, there was no vaccine for the disease. Today, almost 30% of all residents are fully vaccinated. Fear of the disease has lessened to the degree that fear of possible vaccine side effects is greater than fear of contracting the disease.
Gov. Justice announced this week that all between the ages of 16 and 35 who are or become vaccinated will receive a $100 Savings Bond. The Governor has said that he will not do away with the face mask mandate until 70% of the population is vaccinated.
DHHR vaccination data for Putnam reveals that 9.1% of county residents received their first shot in the ten day period between April 6 and 16 but only 1.3% received first shots in ten days from April 16 to 26. Vaccine was available to vaccinate more than 5,000 residents but only 734 chose to be vaccinated.
The vaccination effort has not been sufficient to reduce the number of active cases. There are currently (April 26 data) 364 active cases. The number of active cases on April 6 was 312.
The data strongly suggests that the situation is worse in Putnam than in most West Virginia counties. The DHHR Covid-Alert Map of April 26 had 47 of the state’s 55 counties showing less severity than Putnam.