FAIRMONT — Residents of Marion County will soon be able to receive testing for COVID-19 in-county.
Lloyd White, administrator of the Marion County Health Department, said the department is collaborating with Mon Health System to bring testing to the county, and the first round of tests will be offered this coming Tuesday at a physician’s practice on Locust Avenue.
“We are working in partnership with Mon General to bring testing to Marion County,” White said. “We’ve pretty much got everything planned out and the logistics planned out, so it will happen, barring a snow storm or something like that.”
The newly established testing location will be at the offices of Drs. Marilyn Bonfili and Lisa M. Flower at 1840 Locust Ave. in Fairmont on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-6 p.m. To pre-screen and pre-register, patients must call the Mon Health Patient Outreach Line at (304) 285-3798 and specify that they want to be tested at the Fairmont site.
White said that people who believe they need testing will still have to follow testing guidelines in order to be approved at the new site in Marion County. However, he believes the change will help local residents who cannot travel to get tested, and he is happy Mon Health is working to bring testing to the Fairmont area.
“I have been trying to do it for a while,” White said. “It’s a complex thing so working in conjunction with them and in partnership with them, I’m ecstatic about it, I really am.”
Mon Health System CEO and President David Goldberg said the testing site prevents Marion County residents from having to drive to Morgantown or Bridgeport to get tested.
“We have an excellent working relationship with the Marion County Health Department, the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, and Fairmont State University, all of whom are instrumental in the establishment of this remote testing opportunity. We thank these dedicated partners and our location owner for allowing us to bring this service to Fairmont,” Goldberg said in a prepared statement.
According to White, Marion County now has 10 positive cases of COVID-19 with the Health Department seeing the largest number of new cases confirmed Thursday.
“It continues, unfortunately, to grow,” White said. “I got my first call at 12:30 this morning, I got my second call at 6:50 and we got our third notification around 9. We have never had three new ones in the same day.”
The first positive case of COVID-19 in Marion County, an 88-year-old woman, passed away from complications of the disease Sunday, White said. Because senior citizens are at a higher risk of suffering complications from COVID-19, the Marion County Senior Citizens Center went on lock down to maintain safety while Gov. Jim Justice’s Stay at Home order is in effect.
“On Wednesday or Thursday of last week, we went on company lock down,” said Debbie Harvey, executive director of Marion County Senior Citizens. “The senior population is really at highest risk for coronavirus, so we are taking more precautions.”
Harvey said that the clients of Marion County Senior Citizens are being served by the smallest staff possible, but they are still being served. They are still getting in-home treatment, meals delivered and nursing services, with extra precautions taken to ensure the staff stays germ-free.
“The van drivers are still doing non-emergency transports that are essential for the seniors to have,” Harvey said. “Our drivers are taking precautions, wiping down the vans before and after every trip. We’re keeping as little staff at the same time. Even though we are at a limited staff, we are still taking precautions.”
White said these precautions are necessary, as well as those put in place by the Stay at Home order, because the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in West Virginia continues to rise every day. He said everyone needs to keep practicing social distancing, or else the number will continue to multiply.
“We have got to illustrate the value of social distancing,” White said. “What we are seeing is scary.”