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Belmont County Surpasses 400 COVID-19 Cases

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont County’s positive COVID-19 results topped 400 this week, according to Belmont County Health Department Deputy Director Robert Sproul.

Sproul reported 411 positive cases with 260 recoveries as of Friday, and a total of 12 people have died while positive with the virus.

The five latest deaths included two inmates at Belmont Correctional Institution, two nursing home residents and one nursing home employee. Sproul said all had underlying health conditions.

He has said the majority of new cases in recent weeks have been found at the prison, which houses nearly 2,500 inmates and has a dormitory layout that makes social distancing practices more difficult.

“Primarily from the prison, and we got a couple from a nursing home,” Sproul said. “Some of the ones through the prison are their spouses and kids. So they’re contacts of the prison also … contacts of the prison guards.”

The latest information from coronavirus.ohio.gov lists the Belmont Correctional Institution’s positive inmate caseload at 90, with 60 recoveries and five inmates with pending test results.

A high number of prison employees also have tested positive — 84 with 32 recoveries.

Sproul said increases in the county’s number of cases have been expected due to the gradual reopening of businesses in Ohio.

“(Thursday’s) actually the first day for the dine-in restaurants and the bars, so we’re waiting to see what effect that has. Really haven’t seen much on the retail side. More of our attention’s to see how (Thursday) goes,” Sproul said.

He has been speaking to business owners and said they seem to be taking precautions seriously and passing that attitude to clients.

“We really haven’t had any complaints, which is good. Hopefully people are doing the right thing,” he said. “We haven’t had any complaints about people doing it wrong, but that could change tomorrow.”

This week, word was released that an employee of the St. Clairsville Sheetz store tested positive, along with an employee of Belmont County Department of Job and Family Services. Sproul said there so far have been no other positives reported at county agencies or at high-traffic sites.

“Right now, our biggest thing is the prison,” he said. “They’re governed by the state agencies, so we get very little information from them.”

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