As COVID-19 cases continue to spike in Calhoun County, health officials and schools are working to avoid more restrictions.

Calhoun County Health officer Eric Pessell says COVID-19 cases are still climbing in Calhoun County and at a pretty alarming rate.  “Just since Friday morning to Monday morning we’ve had 260 additional cases,” said Pessell on the WBCK Morning Show.  “But what’s even more alarming is that in the last seven days we’ve had twelve additional deaths.”  That makes 62 total deaths from the virus over 7 months, with 19% coming in just a week.

Pessell says there are 32 persons in the hospital with COVID-19.  There are about 30 ICU beds in the County.   Pessell says he thinks hospitals could certainly increase that amount in a crisis mode, but those spaces are also being used by regular patients.  “I want to make it clear that not all 32 people are in critical care.  I think we have between 9 and 11 right now, but other patients could certainly end up in critical care.”

Calhoun County COVID-19 Spike Oct26
Calhoun County COVID-19 Spike Oct26

Several districts are already implementing restrictions aimed at preventing further spread of the disease.   Climax-Scotts schools announced over the weekend that upper elementary grades 3-5 would be staying home for the next two weeks.

Pessell says he’s meeting regularly with Superintendents, making sure they are doubling down on protocols, and following everything that we can to the letter.  “We’ve had a couple of cases where we’ve had to go ahead and pause, just because we had some transmission, and I would expect that if we don’t get this under control we’re going to see more of that in our schools across the county.”

Calhoun Intermediate School District Assistant Superintendent Jerry Johnson sent a letter to the community on behalf of the Branch and Calhoun County school superintendents on Friday. (October 23rd).

In the letter, Johnson said, “Health officials cite that the rise in cases is largely due to a lack of safe practices -- mainly distancing and mask-wearing -- in social settings and community gatherings.  If cases continue to trend upwards, the Branch and Calhoun County Health Departments may ultimately have to implement additional restrictions to prevent continued infections. Restrictions may include cancellation, or other limitations, of extracurricular activities like athletics, band, choir, and drama. A worst-case scenario is that schools may be directed to shift to a distance learning instructional model either periodically or for an extended period of time until cases decline.”

A copy of the letter from Johnson may be viewed by clicking below.

Pessell said, “I don’t want to be an alarmist, but I’m trying to be a realist.  When people talked about a spike coming in the fall, I kind of expected it to be in November or December.  I didn’t expect it to be in September or October.  I don’t think this is over yet and I don’t think we’ve reached our peak.”

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