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MCHENRY — Appointment-free COVID-19 testing will be available at the Garrett County Fairgrounds on Friday as county officials announced that five staff members at the Dennett Road Manor Nursing Home in Oakland have tested positive for the disease.

On Wednesday, the health department said the five employees at the Dennett Road facility tested positive for COVID-19. Only two of those are residents of the county, a press release said, and so the additional three cases are not reflected in Garrett County's case count. 

“These cases demonstrate that we have asymptomatic community spread of COVID-19 in Garrett County,” said Dr. Jennifer Corder, deputy health officer for Garrett and Allegany counties, in the release. “Because these individuals work in a long-term care facility, they were tested, even though they had no symptoms. We can expect that other well-feeling individuals in our community have COVID-19, and for this reason, we remind you to wear your mask, wash your hands and practice physical distancing when out in public.”

The fairgrounds, located at 270 Mosser Road, will be open from 8 a.m. to noon for drive-thru testing.

 Additional free testing will take place on July 17 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot between the health department and the Mountain Laurel Medical Center at 1025 Memorial Drive in Oakland.

As of Thursday afternoon, Garrett County had 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and no deaths attributed to it. To date, 1,703 tests have been administered in the county.

Allegany County will also offer free drive-thru testing on July 9 and 12 from 9 a.m to 3 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., respectively, at the Allegany County Fairgrounds. 

To date, 8,034 Allegany County residents have been tested for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. There are 205 cases confirmed and three deaths.

Justice considering mask order 

During a press briefing Thursday, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said that he is considering implementing a statewide mandatory mask order that would become effective next week.

Despite the amount of positive tests returned beginning to climb in June, Justice previously demurred on the subject, calling the concept of a mask order "divisive" last week. On Thursday, Justice said “the mathematics of the mask are unbelievable in the mask’s favor" when it comes to their effectiveness at preventing the spread of COVID-19, but also said that he was awaiting more "data" before making a final decision.

“The way you stop it is masks, wearing your mask," Justice said. "... I wanted to give you notice of something that could very well be coming. If that is such a horrible, horrible inconvenience in your life, please think of what it will do to save us and keep us to be able to do all the things we’re doing today in West Virginia.

"West Virginia, we do not want to end up being Florida or Arizona or Texas to where they can’t stop this now," he continued. " … We’ve got to be prepared to take care of ourselves and all our citizens.”

West Virginia had 3,006 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday afternoon, along with 93 deaths. 

Follow staff writer Lindsay Renner-Wood on Twitter @LindsayRenWood.

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