Marion County goes 15 days without new COVID-19 case

Marion County Health Department Administrator Lloyd White, left, and Chris McIntyre, director of the Marion County Department of Homeland Security look over disposable scrubs in this photo from March 2020.

CHARLESTON – A 76-year-old woman from Wayne County and a 68-year-old man from Kanawha County are the two latest casualties from the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in West Virginia, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

“I’m deeply saddened to report the loss of two more West Virginians,” said Bill J. Crouch, DHHR cabinet secretary. “We send our sincere condolences to their families.”

In its 5 p.m. report on May 15, DHHR said there have been 64 COVID-19 deaths, 71,682 laboratory results received for COVID-19, with 1,447 positive, and 70,235 negative cases.

Crouch and his staff said these numbers are considered official numbers reported to the state, which will in turn, be reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Delays may be experienced with the reporting of cases and deaths from the local health department to the state health department.

Confirmed cases per county: Barbour (7), Berkeley (205), Boone (9), Braxton (2), Brooke (3), Cabell (55), Clay (2), Fayette (38), Gilmer (8), Grant (6), Greenbrier (8), Hampshire (12), Hancock (12), Hardy (25), Harrison (34), Jackson (138), Jefferson (96), Kanawha (197), Lewis (4), Lincoln (5), Logan (14), Marion (45), Marshall (23), Mason (15), McDowell (6), Mercer (12), Mineral (26), Mingo (3), Monongalia (114), Monroe (6), Morgan (17), Nicholas (9), Ohio (38), Pendleton (5), Pleasants (2), Pocahontas (2), Preston (15), Putnam (29), Raleigh (10), Randolph (5), Ritchie (1), Roane (8), Summers (1), Taylor (8), Tucker (4), Tyler (3), Upshur (6), Wayne (96), Wetzel (7), Wirt (3), Wood (45), Wyoming (2).

As case monitoring continues at the local health department level, it has revealed a number of times that those tested in a certain county may not be a resident of that county, or even the state. Such is the case of Jefferson and Kanawha counties in this DHHR report.

There has also been a prolonged discrepancy in the total number of COVID-19 cases in Marion County, according to Lloyd White, administrator of the Marion County Health Department.

White said Thursday that Marion County has gone 15 days now without a new case of COVID-19. He said his staff did “a case investigation on one person and that individual actually lives in a nursing home in Pittsburgh,” not in Marion County, thus the one person discrepancy from the local reporting to the state DHHR total.

“We have 45 cases that we have followed and we are following,” White said. “We know who we follow, we know who we contact. Our numbers are absolutely accurate because we’re the ones doing the following.”

Previously, Dr. Clay Marsh, who is temporarily serving as West Virginia’s coronavirus czar, said state health officials would consider reopening the state if there was a consistent pattern involving 14 days in which no new positive cases were identified. However, Marion County remains on the state’s hot spot list.

As part of Gov. Jim Justice’s initiative to increase testing opportunities for minorities and other vulnerable populations, the Governor’s Office, DHHR, the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs and the WV National Guard are offering free testing in medically underserved counties.

The first round of testing was held today with 435 individuals tested in Berkeley County; 367 in Jefferson County; 177 in Mercer County; and 195 in Raleigh County.

Testing in those counties will continue Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the same locations.

Additional testing will be held for Cabell, Kanawha, Marion, and Monongalia counties on May 22 and 23 and Fayette, Kanawha and Mineral counties on May 29 and 30.

Identification, such as a driver’s license or proof of address, will be required to be tested. Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

The existing testing sites will be utilized to include use of the West Virginia National Guard mobile testing units to reach remote areas. Additional areas that require testing and additional dates for testing will be assessed and announced later.

“This effort aligns with Governor Justice’s strategy to increase testing among vulnerable populations to more effectively slow the spread of this disease,” said Dr. Cathy Slemp, state health officer and commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. “Gov. Justice directed the DHHR to develop an advisory group to assist in community outreach and education related to COVID-19 in African Americans, Latinos and other minorities in the state of West Virginia. We’re getting the word out about how important testing is in these communities and now we’re ready to put our plan into action to help save lives.”

Reach Eric Cravey at 304-367-2523.

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