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Belmont County Health Department Staffers in Quarantine After Possible Exposure

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Belmont County Deputy Health Director Robert Sproul was missed during his scheduled report to the Belmont County Board of Commissioners Wednesday. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, he and his office have been working to contact people who may have been exposed to the virus and instructing them to go into quarantine for two weeks.

But Sproul himself and some of his staff may have come into contact with infected persons and now must go into isolation.

“There will be a delay in future reporting and contacting of contacts of positives due to myself and three of my staff being quarantined for being listed as the contact of a positive,” he said in a text Wednesday morning. “We are hopeful the public will understand we are working understaffed but will continue to reach out to them as quickly as we can.”

Sproul and other staff contacted at the health department did not speculate if a possible delay in contacting people could mean an increase in community spread during the current surge of new cases.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and other officials have continued to ask the public to take precautions and minimize their contact with others whenever possible. The governor’s office has issued stringent penalties for businesses that do not enforce mask mandates, large congregations of people have been forbidden, and a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is in effect.

The risk posed to health care workers has been a concern for DeWine’s administration, particularly as another surge might be evident post-Thanksgiving and as the Christmas holiday nears. Locally, 70 employees at Wheeling Hospital are quarantined.

Should they remain asymptomatic, Sproul and his staff will continue to work remotely. Throughout the pandemic, Belmont County officials have continued to conduct business while in quarantine. This includes attorneys at the prosecutor’s office and Belmont County Wester Division Court Judge Eric Costine, who have been able to utilize telecommunications technology to continue court hearings.

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