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Another COVID-19 Spike Expected in Belmont County

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Another surge in new COVID-19 coronavirus cases is expected as the Belmont County Health Department receives more positive results.

Deputy Director Robert Sproul reported five new cases Tuesday, bringing the total number of positive tests in the county to 559.

The chief source of new cases were recent vacations taken by a group of nearly 100 student athletes, including 45 Belmont County residents, to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, and others who took a trip to Panama City in Florida.

Recently, some staff at area businesses including the Bellaire Kroger, Shadyside Dairy Queen and Finish Line shoe store at the Ohio Valley Mall have tested positive, although they were reportedly tested soon and had limited contact with others, and the businesses have been sanitized.

Most recently, Sproul is looking into the results of an employee at West Texas Roadhouse in St. Clairsville.

“This individual, she was a contact of one of the Panama trip people is what we’re being told. We’re trying to get the final details on her, whether she went or was a contact,” he said.

“We’ve also got one that’s basically a positive in another county but there maybe is contact within the county,” Sproul said. “It’s actually a Jefferson County resident, but they work in Belmont County, so some of the contacts will be in our county.”

His office is awaiting a contact list from Jefferson County after that department interviews the individual.

He said his office expects to have more test results soon.

“It’ll be a fair jump, depending on how many of them are positive,” he said.

Sproul said the students who went to Myrtle Beach are in the 16-to-18-year-old range and there were adults with the group. The ones who went to Panama City were in the 21 to 25 age range.

“They went and got tested. They were symptomatic,” he said.

Sproul added the other students who went on the Myrtle Beach trip were from West Virginia.

He could not say if all of the Belmont County students have been tested yet.

“We did not get a full list,” he said. “We got a partial list. … We’ve quarantined more than were tested positive.”

Sproul said the state has still extended restrictions such as bans on gatherings of more than 10 people until Thursday. Sproul said the state hopes to present a county-by-county risk alert system online.

“The state would say whether the county is a green, yellow, orange or red, and depending on your color how the state would want you to enforce public health,” he said. “If you’re a yellow, you could have more events within the county, but if it was a red they would want us to restrict more.”

There have been no guidelines for fireworks yet as the Fourth of July approaches.

“The only thing they said was they wanted people to be safe. If they had fireworks displays, they should be safe and not have mass gatherings,” Sproul said, adding individual communities will make their own decisions. “Be safe and social distance.”

There have been 500 recoveries from the county’s 559 total cases.

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