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Wood County COVID numbers continue climb

PARKERSBURG — Wood County headed into the Fourth of July holiday weekend with a total of COVID-19 cases in the triple digits.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department on Friday afternoon announced there has been a total of 114 cases since March, with 59 of them considered active, meaning an individual has tested positive for the virus and has not been declared recovered.

There have been 28 new cases since Wednesday, the Health Department said in its release. On June 25, the county’s total was 59.

On June 28, the department issued a release saying the majority of 15 new cases identified were connected to a social gathering in the area, with two others linked to travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C. Carrie Brainard, public information officer for the health department, Thursday said some additional cases after that involved people who’d been in contact with individuals at the outdoor gathering, which had 20 to 30 residents of West Virginia and Ohio in attendance, most not wearing masks.

Additional details on the cases announced Friday were not immediately available, but the department asked in the release that people remain 6 feet apart at Independence Day celebrations.

“If individuals let their guard down over the holidays, the numbers will continue to rise,” the release says.

The release says a mask is the best protection for everyone and that those masks should:

∫ Reach above the nose, below the chin, and completely cover the mouth and nostrils.

∫ Fit snugly against the sides of the face.

∫ Be made of multiple layers of fabric that you can still breathe through.

∫ Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damaging the material or shape.

∫ Face coverings can be made from bandanas and scarves as well.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice indicated Thursday that he might issue an executive order on Monday requiring people to wear masks when “in buildings other than your homes.”

Wood County Commission President Blair Couch said he supports the move but the county cannot take the action on its own.

“I personally would like to see facial coverings when you’re within 6 feet” of anybody, he said.

Some have attributed rising case totals to increased testing. There has been an average of 50 tests a day at the tent on Rosemar Road set up by WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center, according to Roger Lockhart, director of marketing and public affairs. That is an increase over previous weeks, he said.

A free drive-up testing event three weeks ago at Parkersburg High School resulted in 628 tests and no positive results.

Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp said that it’s “very concerning to hear that the numbers are going up and up and up.”

“People just have to remember, we’re not out of this thing yet,” he said.

The Vienna City Building is still only admitting people to its front office, where a glass partition separates them from employees. Public works employees are generally operating one to a vehicle; if two share a vehicle, they must wear masks, Rapp said.

He said he does not anticipate any changes to city operations at this time.

Neither does Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce, who said city employees are still required to wear masks when they can’t stay 6 feet apart. City offices are fogged with a virucidal disinfectant five days a week, except for the Police Department, which is treated seven days a week because it is active all week.

“I think we need to keep the building open to the greatest extent we can,” Joyce said. “I encourage folks to be smart, to take their own health and safety seriously and be diligent.

“Keep yourself safe, and keep those around you safe,” he said.

Wood County Circuit and Magistrate courts are preparing to resume jury trials, but Chief Judge J.D. Beane said that could change if the numbers continue to climb. He said he’s been conducting a number of hearings via teleconference and so far it has worked well.

None of the other five counties covered by the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department has reported a new case in the last week, the release says. Roane County has 11 cases, Wirt County four, Pleasants three and Calhoun and Ritchie two each.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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