Wheeling City Officials Stress Safety Compliance as COVID Surges
WHEELING — Officials in the city of Wheeling this week urged citizens to comply with health and safety guidelines as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise both locally and nationally.
This week, Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott noted that figures from the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department show an increasing number of cases as well as additional recorded deaths in Ohio County in the wake of the lingering coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s not great news with respect to what we’ve seen not only locally but regionally and nationally with COVID-19,” Elliott said, noting that additional testing locally is approaching an average of nearly 150 new tests per day for Ohio County alone. “We expect the number of positive tests to go up.”
With cold weather arriving and people spending more time indoors, the time of year when the annual cold and flu season typically arrives is expected to be even more of a threat with COVID-19 still playing a factor in everyone’s daily routines. The mayor indicated that after dealing with the virus for seven months now, many citizens are growing weary of all things COVID-related.
“I think a lot of us just became somewhat relaxed with the situation,” he said. “I think we have to remember that this is not a time for complacency. We have to push through this because the numbers are getting worse, not better.”
Elliot said one point of good news in the wake of this situation is that there now are a number of additional testing sites around the city that are available, and many of them are testing for free. Among the free testing sites in Ohio County that are available from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. this week through Saturday are those at the following locations: the Valley Grove Volunteer Fire Department, 355 Firehouse Lane in Valley Grove; the Warwood Fire Department Station 9 at 1301 Richland Ave.; and Wheeling Island Fire Department Station 5 at 11 N. Wabash St.
The free clinics are available for anyone with or without symptoms. No insurance is required — they are free. Those wishing to be tested need to bring a driver’s license, but there is no residency requirement at all, the mayor said.
“We want to remind folks that Gov. Justice did issue an order updating his prior order on wearing masks while inside public buildings,” Elliott said. “There used to be a social distancing exception to that rule, but the new rule does not have that exception. So if you are in public buildings, you should be wearing a mask under that new order.”
The mayor noted that an end will come to the pandemic, but until it does, everyone in the community must play a part in preventing the spread.
“We have to come together to beat this virus,” he said. “We got some good news here in the past week about some vaccines out there, but if you read all of the information about that, it’s going to be a long time before they’re readily available here in the community. I encourage everybody to do everything that they can to stop the virus from further spreading.”
Councilwoman Rosemary Ketchum added that in addition to mask wearing, it is important to be responsible when gathering in groups, particularly with Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner — a time when families and friends traditionally gather together.
“I want to reinforce the importance of maintaining social distancing during the holiday season,” Ketchum said. “I absolutely understand how long it’s been for everybody here in COVID world, but it’s really, really important — particularly here in Ohio County and throughout the state of West Virginia, where cases are on the rise — to maintain social distancing so that we can protect our communities and our families.”