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Newest virus hotspot: around the golf course

SoVaNow.com / October 12, 2020
Fears among public health officials that people are letting down their guard against the coronavirus are borne out by the growing number of cases nationwide — with the U.S. back up to more than 50,000 new cases daily for the first time since mid-August.

While the virus has plateaued in recent weeks in Halifax County, according to state health department tracking data, potential outbreaks are a constant threat. That reality has hit home at private settings in the county — including at Halifax County Country Club and Green’s Folly Golf Club.

Members of both clubs, who provided information anonymously to protect their standing in the organizations, say that as many as a dozen people in local golfing circles have contracted the virus over the past week.

“There are a lot of people positive in the golfing community, I will tell you that,” said one member who asked to go unnamed.

In response to a surge of cases at the country club, HCCC President Bob Tysinger emailed members on Wednesday to explain the rules for accessing the clubhouse.

“Due to a recent spike in positive COVID testing we are implementing the following rules for entry to our clubhouse,” Tysinger wrote in the email. “Mask MUST be worn upon entry, please help us make sure all members adhere to this change. We are also going to remove two chairs from each table in an effort to better social distance!”

Contacted by phone for comment, Tysinger said “I have no idea how many people have it or where they may have contracted it,” referring to members who are infected.

The new clubhouse access policy went into effect Friday, according to the email. However, said one source, similar steps had previously been taken by the club — only to be ignored by some of the members there.

“Inside the clubhouse they’re not wearing masks. I saw maybe one or two masks the last time I was in the clubhouse two months ago,” said the person.

Other members of the Halifax club say they have witnessed sound practices to control the spread of the virus.

”Many golfers are sanitizing their own carts before use,” said one person, who added that many players have refrained from raking bunkers and touching the playing green pins to avoid any contact with the pathogen. Another member said the same sense of caution prevailed at the swimming pool this summer. “The chairs were definitely limited at the pool,” the person said, referring to social distancing efforts.

Despite all that, recent golf outings involving members of both local clubs have contributed to the virus’ spread. A private party in early October, attended by HCCC members, also has played a role in a rising number of positive tests for COVID-19 in the past week, say multiple club members.

The exact progression of the disease remains uncertain, and members said they know of no effort by the club to reach out to the local health department for guidance on how to respond to a potential outbreak (see below). Some members have disregarded CDC guidance to isolate after knowingly coming into contact with someone who has tested positive.

“They’re supposed to quarantine for 14 days because of exposure, even with a negative test,” said one member, who added, “I know people who have been exposed” without taking precautions to protect others.

“These guys are hanging out in close quarters [inside the club houses] not wearing masks, playing poker, partying. And now it’s a mess.”

The experience is not unique to local golfers. Around the U.S., governors and public health officials are warning that relaxed attitudes towards the virus are leading to a growing number of infections. Official statistics support the fears: On Friday, at least 57,420 new infections were reported around the country, approaching the summertime peak of nearly 70,000 new cases. Across the U.S., 7.6 million people have contracted the virus, and nearly 215,000 have died, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

Nine states set new caseload highs over the past week, and six states broke their single-day records on Friday. In Ohio, one of the states where the virus is surging, Gov. Mike DeWine attributed the rising caseload to pandemic fatigue among the public.

“We’re sick of wearing masks, we’re sick of all of this, and I get, but we’ve got to hang in there for our kids,” said DeWine, the state’s Republican governor.

The problem within the local country clubs has apparently reached a preschool setting in Halifax County. This week, parents of preschool students in a class at First Baptist Church Weekday School were informed they need to keep their children isolated for 14 days after coming into contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Church leaders declined comment on the matter.

There are 14 reported outbreak clusters of COVID-19 in the Southside Health District, which spans Halifax, Mecklenburg and Brunswick counties. That number has not changed in recent days to reflect activity at county golf courses.

The Virginia Department of Health defines outbreaks as any congregant setting outside of a family gathering where two or more persons test positive for the disease. Of the reported 14 outbreaks in the three-county area, five involve workplaces, church or generalized adult settings. That number has not moved in the past month.

One outbreak was previously reported in a child care setting in Mecklenburg County. There has also been one reported K-12 school outbreak, also in Mecklenburg.

Halifax County’s caseload since the pandemic began in March now stands at 417 people, through Sunday. Since the start of October, 54 people have tested positive for COVID-19. Over a comparable period at the beginning of September, 55 people in Halifax tested positive.

The county has reported seven deaths from the virus, a number far exceeded in neighboring Mecklenburg and Pittsylvania counties and the City of Danville, where dozens have died. Charlotte County has not seen any deaths from the virus, although it is showing one of the fastest rates of virus spread in the area.

Campbell County has reported five deaths and 557 cases, a caseload number that surpasses Halifax.

***

From the Virginia Department of Health, on what to do if you have close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19:

Self-quarantine (stay home) and monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days after your last contact.

» Answer the call. Your local health department will reach out to you with more recommendations if you are identified as a close contact during contact tracing.

» Respond to notifications. If you use the COVIDWISE app and receive an exposure notification, stay home and monitor your health for 14 days after the potential exposure.

» Get tested. Contact your healthcare provider to ask about getting tested because of your exposure. There are many test sampling sites available throughout the state to get yourself tested. Call ahead to your healthcare provider and wear a mask when you leave home. If you test negative during your quarantine period, you will still need to complete your full 14-day quarantine before it is safe to go back to work or be around others.

» Stay home and away from others (“self-quarantine”). Avoid contact with others to avoid spreading COVID-19 to others. Do not go to work or school. Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares. Your local health department can assist you with making sure that your basic needs (for example, food and medication) are being met. More information, including scenarios on when to end quarantine, is available here.

» Monitor your health. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day (once in the morning, once at night) and watch for fever. Also, watch for other signs and symptoms of COVID-19, such as cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell. You can download VDH’s Daily Symptom Monitoring Log to help keep track of your symptoms. The health department might also use an electronic symptom monitoring program for those who have been assessed as exposed to COVID-19.

» How long do I need to stay home? It may take up to 14 days after an exposure for you to develop COVID-19. Self-quarantine and monitor your health for 14 days from when you last had contact with the infected person.

For more, visit http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/local-exposure/

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1412

Comments

Ahh the mask Nazis are at work. It is amazing how many cowards we have in the county. This will not go away until it goes through the heard. Will people get sick? Yes, unfortunately, people will die, but we all die someday. As for deaths in the US, we are about 200,000 less deaths overall this year, then last year, per dept of health and human services stats. But go ahead and give up your freedom.

Comments

I'm with you scamdemic. We need to tell our surgeons and doctors and nurses to stop wearing those stupid masks. There's no such thing as germs, microbes or viruses.

How dare they make our medical folks wear those stupid, useless masks and infringe on their freedoms.

Uh, scamdemic, you are an idiot.

Comments

Bob Tysinger said he had no idea where it came from? Really? The spread came from a birthday party his daughter had where someone who had it attended and spread it to the unmasked, over attended, no social distancing partygoers.

It is known that partygoers have attempted to keep it from others, jeopardizing all they have encountered as they carried on with their normal routines. Some were going out and about, going to the country club etc knowing they had Covid and/or knowing they certainly were at a minimum exposed to it! Some are continuing to go to work and not self quarantining. PA’s, office staff, insurance agents, bankers, lawn care owners, engineers, building inspectors and the list goes on and on. One attendee, who is not doing well, is looking into options for compensation from the hosts not following guidelines and hosting a party that has become ground zero for the spread.

Now you know. You’re welcome!

Comments

The "outbreak" did not originate at HCC, as the article implies. Pls get your facts straight. Oh wait, this is a libtard publication.

Comments

I would only quibble with the final comparisons with other counties, which make it sound as though Halifax is doing pretty well. But on a per capita basis we are not. The VDH gives the number of cases per 100,000 population for every county. Compared that way, the difference is much less: Halifax has 1225, Pittsylvania 1895, Charlotte 1541 and Campbell 1029. Only Mecklenburg among our neighbors stands out significantly with 2724 cases per 100,000.

Comments

"Kamala" seems to forget that the only proper response to an accusation of fake news is to post the facts. If the article was wrong about the origins of an outbreak, where did it begin?

Comments

I'm with realitycheck. Sure, as scamdemic says, we all die. I guess that's why scamdemic doesn't look before crossing a road or check the expiration date on that crab salad.

Comments

A lot of local companies are losing money because they're paying salaries for folks to stay home due to their carelessness. That's a part of quarantining.

Comments

Scamdemic is right in saying that there are cowards in the county. Those are the people who are too afraid to wear a mask when they go shopping or out to a restaurant. They are the ones responsible for more than 400 people being sick, 17 being in the hospital and seeing seven die.

Comments

That is right...wait until you are infected, then wear a mask and social distance. IDIOTS!!!

Comments

Indeed, Blanche! How many, many, many times have we seen headlines featuring a mask-denier or a COVID-19 denier dying of the coronavirus they thought was a hoax?

Comments

Several, including Tysinger were out in public, in businesses knowing full well that they had been exposed. Someone with him was sick and yet neither made any attempt to social distance or even mask. They knowingly risked the lives of those they exposed. They should be charged with assault!!!

Comments

Exactly. These people are no different than drunk drivers.

Comments

The karens jumping on a person who believes in freedom. If you want to wear a mask, wear one, if you don't, then don't. i have had several family members test positive for rona, one didn't even get sick, just had to test. If you want facts that masks in the general public don't work, it says so on the box. They many help in a sterile environment in a hospital. I am positive that all these people that called scamdemic an idiot believe they are christians, well if you believe the Bible, the date or your death was determined 1000's of years ago. Scam is correct when he says people are cowards, look how many wear a mask walking by themselves or alone in a car.

Comments

It is just a mask wear one....a mask not covering your nose is like wearing a condom with a hoe in it. Get with the program club heads.

Comments

I am not here to debate with anyone about the freedom to wear a mask or not. However it is completely inaccurate to say masks don’t work in the public. They provide very minimal prevention in contracting the disease. That is true. However they significantly decrease the transmission from infected people to those who are not infected. People should be wearing the masks especially if they are infected to prevent transmission to healthy people. It’s not about being brave or taking a stand for your freedom. It is about helping to protect your fellow man. The hospital is struggling to find room for any patients. Other hospitals are not accepting Covid transfers. It will only take a few more cases to overrun the capabilities of our hospital. Heart attacks strokes etc all will suffer as there is not enough room to safely care for them with covid patients taking up all the resources. I don’t need to read a box of masks. I do this as a career.

Comments

People wearing a mask by themselves or in a car are not cowards. They are making sure that they have their mask on wherever they go. And as for masks being effective, the science is against you https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02801-8 I am sure that you know people who tested positive and didn't get sick. That's as irrelevant as saying you know someone who jaywalked across a busy street and didn't get hit therefore using a crosswalk when the light is against you is unnecessary.

Comments

RealDoc is right. Masks help you to prevent spreading the disease. I wonder if has ever dawned on allpolitical2 that his "several family members" wouldn't have contracted the coronavirus at all if they had taken simple precautions? Perhaps they didn't get sick...but they may have died, too. Why take such risks when it is so easy to take simple precautions?

Comments

Since allpolitical2 brought up the Bible, let me remind him (or her) what was written in Philippians 2:4: "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."

Comments

"A condom with a hoe in it." There's a thought.


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