PRINCETON — Mercer County began the week of June 14 with only 13 confirmed COVID-19 cases throughout the entirety of the pandemic. As of Sunday, the case count had spiked to 22 total.
Mercer County health officials confirmed early in the week that the 14th case was an employee of Bluefield State College. Robin C. Capehart, president of Bluefield State College, entered into self-quarantine as a matter of precaution after learning he had come into contact with the exposed employee. Other individuals who had come into contact with the employee had been called and tested, according to a blog post by Capehart. The case was found to be travel related.
On the evening of June 17, health officials confirmed a 15th case in Mercer County that was also travel related. Soon after, on June 19, a 16th cases was confirmed in Mercer that was also reported to be the result of domestic travel. Contact tracing was completed for both cases, but it was unclear how many people were identified to be at-risk.
Saturday saw three new cases confirmed by the Mercer County Health Department. All three were found to be the result of community transmission. Then on Sunday, another three cases were confirmed. Of those, two were travel related and the third was a result of community transmission. Contact tracing was completed for those six new, weekend cases, but it was still unclear how many people had been identified by health officials.
Mercer County totaled 22 positive cases on Sunday. According to the Health Department, 13 of those cases had recovered and been released from isolation. Nine people remained isolated to prevent further spread of the virus.
On Friday afternoon, Gov. Jim Justice warned that a state mandate for masks would be issued if West Virginia saw a surge in coronavirus cases. “If our health experts (recommend it) and our numbers turn south on us, then absolutely we will make masks mandatory,” he said during his press briefing. “We are seeing states with real issues (in surging of new cases).”
Other virus hotspots have appeared throughout the state since West Virginia began reopening. On June 15, 28 positive cases were found to be related to Gray Stone Baptist Church in Greenbrier County. At Gov. Justice’s Friday briefing, 25 to 30 cases were believed to be related to travel to Myrtle Beach. State Health Officer Dr. Cathy Slemp urged anyone who had visited the popular vacation spot to exercise caution, wear a mask when in public and to notify their employer.
As of Sunday June 21, West Virginia had a 2,444 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 89 probable cases, according to the West Virginia Department of Health’s website. The state has seen 89 deaths due to the virus, and 150,170 tests have been taken.
— Contact James Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org