FCPH reports 48 new COVID cases

Sheriff Stanforth says he tested positive for virus, has no symptoms

By Ryan Carter - and Jennifer Woods

In an update from Fayette County Public Health (FCPH) on Friday, 48 new cases of COVID-19 (42 confirmed, six probable) were reported.

With the 48 new cases, the cumulative total was at 713 for the county. Of those 713 cases, 500 have recovered, 16 have passed away and 197 cases remain active. There are 254 individuals being monitored who came into contact with an infected person, according to FCPH.

As of Friday, there were six community members hospitalized although there have been a cumulative total of 76 hospitalized.

Fayette County remains at risk level three (red) on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, indicating “very high exposure and spread.” According to information shared by FCPH, Fayette County met two indicators this week. Those indicators include: new cases per capita and proportion of cases in a non-congregate setting (indicating higher community spread).

As of Friday, Fayette County had 153 new cases (by symptom onset date) in the past two weeks, which is over five times the threshold for high incidence, according to FCPH.

“Our staff members have been tirelessly conducting case investigations, contact tracing and other COVID-19 response tasks. They are passionate about protecting this community, but they need your help,” explained a Facebook post from FCPH.

That same post made two requests of community members as the weekend began:

-Those diagnosed with COVID-19, please stay home and stay away from others. If a person is waiting for a call from FCPH, please be patient. Staff is working on case investigations and contact tracing as quickly as possible. Those who have received a positive test result, please answer the phone when FCPH calls or call back.

-Please limit activities, keep social circles small, and take precautions to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

Following an outbreak of COVID-19 at the local jail, Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth disclosed on Friday that he recently tested positive for the virus.

Stanforth told the Record-Herald he is quarantining at his home and is following the advice of his personal health care provider and the staff at Fayette County Public Health (FCPH). After receiving a positive test result last weekend, he said he is feeling fine and has no symptoms to date.

“Fortunately, Joy (Stanforth’s wife) has had two negative tests and will be tested again soon,” Stanforth wrote in a Facebook post. “As a proactive measure, I have taken steps over the past several months in anticipation of exposure to the virus and other airborne viruses. Those measures have helped my immune system effectively fight the symptoms associated with Covid-19 so far.”

In an interview, Stanforth said he and his wife are taking precautions at home to minimize Joy’s exposure to the virus. He added that he has the necessary technology at home to perform his duties. Other members of the command staff have also been affected by the virus and some have had to quarantine.

“The sheriff’s office operation has gone as planned,” he said. “When I became sheriff I instituted a chain of command policy. It’s not a COVID policy, but rather something that is in place in the event that knocks myself or anyone else out of commission or someone is incapacitated. The next person down the line then assumes command. There is a structure in place that can sustain itself. Our patrol have been out of the jail and out of dispatch to try to minimize their exposure. These shift sheriffs, if you will, are given full command to make decisions.”

FCPH reported Wednesday that a total of 14 jail staff members, 10 inmates, and four secondary contacts (close contacts of primary cases) have tested positive from the COVID-19 outbreak.

“No new inmates are being accepted right now because of our low staffing levels,” said Stanforth, who added there were around 41 or 42 inmates at the jail as of Friday. “No female inmates have tested positive. The 10 males who tested positive have been isolated in a cell block from the rest of the population. The courts have worked to release some of the inmates if the situation warrants it. Most of the individuals in jail now are awaiting trial. They have made poor choices, and they are going to stay there to answer to the courts for their actions.”

The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office is working with the Highland County Sheriff’s Office to house new inmates.

In his Facebook post, Stanforth went on to say: “After reading many research articles concerning COVID, I purposely increased my vitamin D, vitamin C and zinc daily dosages (with a healthy dose of Elderberry). I believe my improved immunity has helped in the fight against COVID-19 within my system. In my research I also found the virus must have dry air in order to travel indoors. As recommended, I began using a humidifier inside my home and in the jail facility to increase the indoor moisture levels in hopes of providing another layer of protection for my family, my staff and those incarcerated. It is my hope those measures have helped minimize the spread of COVID-19, knowing it can not be stopped entirely.

“I recognize COVID-19 will impact each individual differently, and I urge each (individual) to follow the guidance of your personal health care provider and the FCHD. Following the guidelines are a means to keep you safe and your loved ones protected.”

If Stanforth continues without any symptoms, he said it’s possible he could return to the office by Sunday or Monday.

FCPH asks the community to “stay home if you are sick, if you are symptomatic and waiting on the results of a COVID test, if you are in isolation or quarantine, or if you have been exposed to someone who is positive for COVID-19.”

“Each and every one of us has the ability to make choices to slow the spread and protect our friends, family and neighbors. Thank you to everyone who has been taking action,” wrote FCPH.

Sheriff Stanforth says he tested positive for virus, has no symptoms

By Ryan Carter

and Jennifer Woods