Health dept. shares results from community testing in Smithers as they test 61 more in Hico

HICO, WV (WOAY) – After testing 183 people last week in Smithers at their very first community-wide testing event, the Fayette County Health Department reports that only one test came back positive. 

“I was expecting more than that,” Fayette County Health Officer Dr. Anita Stewart said. “We know of the people we tested there were only about 25% that were symptomatic that day but still one out of 25% of 183 people was good.” 

This week, the health department was back at it again as they tested 61 at Midland Trail High School in Hico. 

No symptoms or orders were required to be tested. Dr. Stewart says when there is a rise in cases, like what Fayette County is experiencing, doing asymptomatic, community-wide testing is the best way to not only open up access but also get a better grasp of the asymptomatic spread.

“What these community-based testing events are is to help establish, you know, what is the prevalence of disease? How many people are positive and are asymptomatic? We quickly identify those positives, isolating them and doing aggressive contact tracing to try to stop the spread of disease,” Dr. Stewart said.  

For the Midland Trail site, the health department partnered with the Rainelle Medical Center with plans to continue establishing partnerships for sites in the future.

Because Fayette County was ahead of the game in community-wide testing, the state will not be sending in the National Guard to do it, like in other communities, as they feel the health department is already on it. 

“We, of course, continue to partner with the state and the National Guard and appreciate their support, but we felt like we’re doing this locally and we’re working with our partners. Next week, we’re going to be partnering with New River Health Association so we just felt it was best to keep it local,” Teri Harlan, the health department’s administrator, said. 

The health department plans to test in Mt. Hope on Wednesday next week at Kilsyth Freewill Baptist Church from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. and next Thursday at Oak Hill High School from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. This will also be community-wide testing, and it will be free.

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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.