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Wood County stays on orange

PARKERSBURG — Wood County remains orange on West Virginia’s daily COVID-19 county alert system map, a step below the most serious classification of red, which indicates the highest level of spread of the novel coronavirus.

From Wednesday to Sunday, the county had recorded double-digit confirmed coronavirus cases, with 22 coming on Sunday.

The orange label was earned because 5.9 percent of all tests conducted in the last seven days — 130 out of 2,202 — were positive, according to statistics on the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ online COVID-19 dashboard.

The positivity rate is one of two measures used in determining a county’s color. The second is the infection rate or the number of cases per 100,000 people. Wood County’s 31.3 would qualify for red, but the map color is determined by the lower of the two metrics.

That’s different from the West Virginia Department of Education map released every Saturday. That has Wood County at gold, in the middle of the spectrum. The primary impact on schools is that athletic competitions can only take place between teams within the county or from counties that are also gold.

Like Wood County, Jackson and Tyler counties are gold on the school re-entry map but orange on the daily county map.

Over the weekend, Jackson County Schools announced on its Facebook page two positive tests connected to Ravenswood High School and said the county Health Department was contacting individuals to be placed in quarantine.

Ritchie County is yellow, the second-lowest color, on the school map and gold on the daily map. Pleasants County is on the lowest level, green, on the weekly school map and yellow on the daily chart.

Roane and Wetzel counties are yellow on both maps, while Calhoun, Doddridge and Gilmer are green on each.

In Wood County, five of the positive tests recorded Sunday involved people connected to five different county schools. The district did not specify whether the positive tests at Blennerhassett Elementary School, Franklin Elementary Center, Parkersburg High School, Williamstown High School and the Wood County Technical Center involved students or staff to avoid identifying the individuals.

Announcements posted on the district website, woodcountyschoolswv.com, say the district has “already taken steps to inform individuals that we believe were directly exposed to the positive individual” at each school.

“If you are not contacted by the principal or school nurse, no action is needed at this time,” the district says in the announcements.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department is working with the school district to identify anyone else who may have had contact with the individuals who tested positive, and they will be contacted accordingly, it says.

A statement from the district Monday said they still plan to resume four-day-a-week classes on Monday, a move approved by the Wood County Board of Education at its Oct. 27 meeting.

“Of course, depending on how things go with the state COVID-19 map and numbers, we could be required to go to remote learning only, in which case we will follow the state guidelines,” said Michael Erb, Wood County Schools coordinator of communications.

“We continue to follow all of the CDC guidelines and MOVHD recommendations concerning social distancing, the use of PPE, and frequent cleaning of surfaces and shared areas,” he said. “We are asking all community members to continue doing their best to help slow and stop the spread of COVID-19, and we will continue to provide Wood County Schools students with the best and safest educational opportunities possible.”

Dr. Charles Whitaker III, medical officer for the MOVHD, said Sunday that students being back in school is likely contributing somewhat to the rising number of cases, “but that’s not major.

“They’ve really done very well,” he said.

Whitaker said the primary issue is people not following guidelines regarding masks, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.

These precautions must be taken consistently, he said, offering an example of employees at a business being wary of when a member of the public comes inside but letting their guard down around co-workers.

“You don’t know who was out or who was in contact with someone who was out doing things that are less than appropriate during this time of COVID,” he said.

Another care facility in Wood County is the site of an outbreak, with nine residents and nine staff members at the Willows Center at 723 Summers St. in Parkersburg having tested positive, according to a statement from Dr. Richard Feifer, chief medical officer for Genesis Healthcare, which owns the Willows.

“All patients, residents and staff have been tested twice already, and we will be conducting a third round of testing this week,” he said.

Feifer said Genesis continues to follow federal and state guidelines for preventing the spread of the virus. The company’s efforts include screening residents and patients three times a day for symptoms, screening and taking temperatures of staff upon entry into the building and implementing visitation restrictions.

Free COVID-19 testing continues today at the following locations:

∫ Doddridge County, 2-4 p.m., Ritchie Regional Health Center, West Union Location, 190 Marie St., West Union

∫ Jackson County, 9 a.m. to noon, Jackson County Health Department, 504 South Church St., Ripley

∫ Ritchie County, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Smithville Fire Department, West Virginia 47, Smithville; noon to 4 p.m., Ritchie County High School, 201 Ritchie County High School Road, Ellenboro; 2-4 p.m., Ritchie Regional Health Center, 135 South Penn Ave., Harrisville; 2-6 p.m., Pennsboro Fire Department, 208 Kimball Ave., Pennsboro

∫ Roane County, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Roane General Hospital, 200 Hospital Drive, Spencer (flu shots offered)

∫ Wood County, 9 a.m. to noon, Ohio Valley University South Campus, Snyder Activity Center Parking Lot, College Parkway, Vienna; noon to 4 p.m., county parking lot by Blennerhassett Hotel, 315 Market St., Parkersburg; 4-6 p.m., Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, 211 Sixth St., Parkersburg

Additional testing is available through the week:

Wednesday

∫ Doddridge County, 2-4 p.m., Ritchie Regional Health Center, West Union Location

∫ Jackson County, 9 a.m. to noon, Jackson County Health Department, Ripley

∫ Ritchie County, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Pennsboro Fire Department; noon to 4 p.m., Ritchie County High School, Ellenboro; 2-4 p.m., Ritchie Regional Health Center, Harrisville; 2-6 p.m., Smithville Fire Department

∫ Roane County, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Roane County Family Health Care, 146 Williams Drive, Spencer (flu shots offered)

∫ Wood County, 9 a.m. to noon, North End Church of Christ, 1301 West Virginia Ave., Parkersburg; 1-5 p.m., South Parkersburg Baptist Church, 1655 Blizzard Drive, Parkersburg;

Thursday

∫ Doddridge County, 2-4 p.m., Ritchie Regional Health Center, West Union Location

∫ Jackson County, 9 a.m. to noon, Jackson County Health Department, Ripley

∫ Ritchie County, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Smithville Fire Department; noon to 4 p.m., Ritchie County High School, Ellenboro; 2-4 p.m. Ritchie Regional Health Center, Harrisville; 2-6 p.m., Pennsboro Fire Department

∫ Wood County, 9 a.m. to noon, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 2515 Capital Drive, Parkersburg; 2-6 p.m., Faith Baptist Church, 1103 10th St., Vienna

Friday

∫ Doddridge County, 2-4 p.m., Ritchie Regional Health Center, West Union Location

∫ Jackson County, 9 a.m. to noon, Jackson County Health Department, Ripley

∫ Ritchie County, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Pennsboro Fire Department; noon to 4 p.m., Ritchie County High School, Ellenboro; 2-4 p.m. Ritchie Regional Health Center, Harrisville; 2-6 p.m., Smithville Fire Department

∫ Roane County, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Roane General Hospital, Spencer (flu shots offered)

Saturday

∫ Roane County, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Roane General Hospital, Spencer (flu shots offered)

More testing locations can be found online at https://dhhr.wv.gov/COVID-19/pages/testing.aspx.

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