Lake health departments stern on decision to not include location information in COVID releases

MITCH PRENTICE
2018 file photo of the Camden County Health Department.

With a new surge in COVID activity being seen through the state, many residents are looking for more information to help narrow down infection hotspots around the lake area. Camden, Miller and Morgan Health Departments have shared numerous COVID cases total updates since the start of the pandemic, though have been without any information regarding location origins. Residents on social media and otherwise have asked for this information to be included with future releases. This desire for information is all for naught, however, as health department officials confirmed today that they will not be releasing any location data.

Shawn Brantley, Morgan County Health Center Administrator, says that they want to stress the fact that the spread of this disease is made through close contact. He says that, by telling the public that a positive case was, for instance, at Walmart on a certain date, it would only serve as “unnecessary panic” when the chance for exposure was basically nonexistent.

“At this point we know it is community spread and the best thing everyone can do is to continue to practice good hygiene, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings as much as possible,” Brantley said.

Camden County Health Center Administrator Bee Dampier agreed with Brantley, following up his remarks saying with so many visitors coming to the lake from all parts of the country, the likelihood of COVID case increase is only going to increase as the season continues.

Dampier says that any business or gathering place could be a potential source of exposure at any time. She continued, saying people need to make their own personal decisions as to whether or not they feel safe in public spaces.

“There may be only 2 or 3 people in a store, but 2 of them were with someone who was only mildly ill and didn't realize it, just before they came in. If you name Store A, B, and C then everyone goes to Store X,Y,Z because they don't have Covid, and then low and behold there is someone who comes in there who does have it and you are right back to square one. It has the potential to be everywhere; naming a few places that are relatively low to no risk is not helpful in controlling spread of disease,” Dampier said.

Dampier continued her statement, urging residents to continue proper hand washing and social distancing while the pandemic is still active. She says that the best thing any person can do is to pay attention to themselves for symptoms. While dealing with cases coming into the health department, she says many residents simply thought their allergies were acting up or they were just overly tired. No matter what, Dampier says not to justify if you’re feeling ill and to stay home.

“We have had well over 500,000 visitors estimated to have been here since Memorial Day. We have over 400 food and beverage establishments and around 100 lodging facilities in Camden County not to mention all the Vacation Rentals and second homes. The virus is not going to go away any time soon, we have to learn to live with it safely by making wise choices based on our own health and what each of us feels is the best for our own family,” Dampier said in closing.

Michael Herbert, Miller County Health Center Administrator, simply stated that he agreed with the statements made by Brantley and Dampier.