Jefferson County, PA – Jefferson County Emergency Services Director Tracy Zents sent out a plea to residents of the county to please be careful and try to take every precaution to slow the spread of the virus, especially as the holidays are approaching.
Letter from Tracy William Zents, Director of Jefferson County Department of Emergency Services:
In less than a week, we should be all sitting down with our families to give thanks for everything we have. In a month, we will be celebrating the joys of the Christmas Holidays and preparing for the new year! While these are all great milestones to enjoy with your family and friends, we all must understand that this year is unlike any other year that we have celebrated these holiday seasons. Most call it the new norm; I call it a new challenge.
2020 has been a challenging uphill battle for most people because each and every one of us has had to deal with the novel Coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19. In the spring of the year, there were so many uncertainties with the pandemic and how was it going to affect us. Was it going to be as bad as the 1918 pandemic that our great ancestors faced? No one knew.
But all of us faced it together throughout this unprecedented year. As a community, we stayed home to protect our families. We watch small business owners struggle because they were shut down, vying that we would be there to support them once everything opened back up. Our children were separated from their friends as schools shut down and our hospitals geared for being overwhelmed. My team secured thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment that was distributed to our first responders, hospitals and even to some of our long-term care facilities. We developed sites for testing and vaccination plans once they would come into fruition. And we did this together, not as a group or organization, but as a community committed to helping each other. We kept our infection rate low and opened up slowly for the long-term recovery.
As we move to the holiday seasons, now is not the time to let your guard down. The spread of the COVID-19 virus is growing at a rapid rate within Jefferson County. In November alone, we have seen well over 200 plus cases. What if these 200 cases or even half required to be in a hospital setting for treatment? Bed capacity in our two hospitals in the county would completely overwhelm them; causing more stress and anxiety to our nurses, doctors and other health care staff.
All the images we seen in the spring in cities across the nation. We are seeing the spread and know people in our communities that are suffering from the virus and fighting hard to overcome its sickness. We are seeing spread in our first responder communities, in our office settings, our schools, and our long-term care facilities. And we know some of our citizens lost loved ones because of this all.
My team has worked really hard in keeping it out of the Emergency Services Building. Losing just a couple of our staff could be catastrophic in continuing our goals to answer those calls for help 24 hours a day when someone calls 9-1-1. We have been successful so far and successful in tackling a lot of the challenges that have been thrown at us. But our work is not done and as I mentioned before, we have faced this together so far and we really need all of you to continue to face this with us.
While mask wearing is not a favorite thing of mine, I truly believe it is a way to help keep the spread of the virus down. Keeping a social distance of 6ft from someone is also a way to help keep the spread down. Avoid large crowds of people this year. Continuing to practice good hygiene as washing hands, utilizing hand sanitizer, coughing into the elbow of your arm or in a tissue will help keep the spread down.
It truly is this important. Yes, it is a virus. But certain people who get a virus can harm others or even put themselves in danger because of underlying health conditions.
I am urgently asking everyone for your cooperation in helping keep the virus from spreading any further than it is. I can’t do this alone, nor can my team; our health care professionals nor can any of our emergency responders.
We do not believe that a shutdown again is the answer. The social and mental impact on people is very real and concerning. We do believe that if everyone follows these few simple measures, we can win this war against the Coronavirus.
Please help me in fighting this fight together! We will get through this TOGETHER!
Tracy William Zents, Director
Jefferson County Department of Emergency Services