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KEYSER, W.Va. — Mineral County Health Department Administrator A. Jay Root said Friday that the county’s high rate of COVID-19 spread continues to stem from people’s failure to follow health guidelines.

Health officials reported 92 new cases Friday evening, raising the cumulative total to 841. There were also 12 probable cases and 392 active.

Included in the total was an outbreak at Mineral Fabrication in Keyser, where nine employees reportedly tested positive.

Mineral County’s infection rate was 159.51 per 100,000 people as of Friday morning’s state Department of Health and Human Resources report, with a 13.16% positivity rate. The state’s daily percent positivity was 4.77%.

The county reported its fifth death — the first since July — on Thursday, an 85-year-old woman who had been hospitalized.

Root said that he was concerned the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday would drive cases up further.

Asked how testing conducted lately compares to the free testing offered over the summer, Root said they have seen more people showing symptoms coming through the lines.

“We are seeing several symptomatic individuals coming through for testing the last couple of weeks,” he wrote. “From May to the end of August, we tested approximately 2,300 (including Potomac State College) and had 4 positives. Since Nov. 2, we have tested 4,200 and we are seeing 30 to 60 positives per day at this point.”

The department also posted a plea for folks to work with contact tracers, should one reach out to them, on social media Friday.

“We are asking that you are cooperative with these agencies as they are trying to help out our community,” the post reads. “The phone numbers will show up different than local numbers for some. It would be helpful and speed up the process if you are to test positive, to go ahead and start making a list of contacts.

“Additionally, if you are symptomatic before results or test positive, please start your isolation period so that we can lessen the spread of this virus,” it continued. “It may take a little longer to make all contacts due to the high volume of cases we are now seeing.”

Free testing will be available in Mineral County on Monday and Tuesday next week. Additional details had not been finalized as of early Friday afternoon.

Death confirmed

in Hampshire County

Hampshire County reported its second death from COVID-19 Friday morning, an 85-year-old man who died from complications caused by the disease at Hampshire Memorial Hospital, per a news release.

“The Hampshire County Health Department extends their deepest sympathies to the family and friends for their loss,” the release says. “We ask that everyone please respect this life lost by taking care of one another and wearing your masks, limiting your gatherings, and social distancing.”

The county had 246 cases of the virus Friday, according to the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

Lindsay Renner-Wood is a reporter for the Cumberland Times-News, covering West Virginia and more. Follow her on Twitter @LindsayRenWood, email or call 304-639-4403.

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