KEYSER, W.Va. — Some county and municipal bodies have scaled back public access as Mineral County continued experiencing some of the worst COVID-19 trends in the state.
The county, state and country are all faring poorly as cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus continue skyrocketing. Although no one has died from the virus in Mineral County since July, hospitalizations have climbed along with cases.
As of Monday night, the county health department reported 642 total cases, of which 313 are active, along with four probable cases. Per state data, the county’s seven-day rolling average infection rate was 146.75 per 100,000, and the rate of positivity 10.01%.
The health department also reported several more cases connected to area businesses, including:
- 10 more residents at Piney Valley. Since the outbreak began, 37 residents and 10 employees have tested positive.
- An additional employee associated with the McDonald’s outbreak previously identified. The employee last worked before the store closure for environmental cleaning. Those who visited between Oct. 31 and Nov. 11 may have been exposed.
- An employee of Castiglia’s Italian restaurant in Keyser. Anyone who visited from Nov.10-12 may have been exposed.
- Individuals associated with Little People Daycare in Keyser, as well as KinderCenter Daycare in Ridgeley.
- An employee of the Keyser 7-Eleven. The affected dates are Nov. 13-15.
Accordingly, throughout the county different bodies have made adjustments for community health.
WVU Potomac State College announced Tuesday afternoon that all students residing on campus would be required to participate in testing at the J. Edward Kelley Rec Center on campus Wednesday. Students who participated in last week’s round of testing do not have to participate but may if they choose. The school reported 11 total new cases Tuesday since Nov. 13, six from on-campus testing and five from self-reported results.
“If an individual has not been tested yet or tested prior to 11/11/2020, the College will still require participation in this upcoming testing opportunity Nov. 18,” per a news release.
Commissioner Richard “Doc” Lechliter reported during the Mineral County Economic Development Authority’s monthly meeting Tuesday afternoon that the county courthouse had gone back to seeing visitors by appointment only.
Carpendale town councilman Butch Armentrout said they planned to close town hall for the week of Thanksgiving “rather than expose people to that, but everything else seems to be going well, at least as well as it can under the circumstances.”
Piedmont Mayor Paula Boggs said that, similar to the drive-thru celebration for Easter earlier this year, the town is planning to likely hold a drive-thru event with Santa as Christmas approaches. The Tri-Towns parade was canceled as well, Boggs noted.
Though no one was present from the city for the EDA meeting, Keyser officials announced this week on social media that City Hall would be closed to the public effective Tuesday. The city’s regular meeting Wednesday night will reportedly be streamed on Facebook.
Though Commission President Roger Leatherman was not present for the commission meeting later on in the early evening, Lechliter and Commissioner Jerry Whisner voted during the session to approve the purchase of specialized UV lights and air filters for purification in the county’s fleet of 16 ambulances. The filters are $354 apiece and the UV lights $750.
“We’ve had 30 to 70 cases a day for the past week, so the county really has exploded,” Lechliter said. “We really are in red all the time even if the map doesn’t say it on the statewide map, and there’s no end in sight yet.”
Whisner said he feels the county’s sharp rise in cases has prompted residents to treat the virus more seriously.
“I’ve seen a lot more mask-wearing,” Whisner said.
Lechliter agreed, and said he felt “people are starting to believe it better, that there is a problem with the COVID virus.”
Both the increase in numbers itself and the fact that more folks now know someone who has had the illness may have prompted the change in heart, Lechliter noted.
“It’s touching more people now,” he said.