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Ohio County experiences largest single-day COVID-19 increase

WHEELING -A dozen new COVID-19 cases were reported in Ohio County on Thursday, marking the largest single-day jump since the pandemic began and raising alarm bells about the spread of the coronavirus in the county.

Wheeling-Ohio County Health Administrator Howard Gamble said the surge in new cases since mid-June indicates significant community spread as businesses reopen and people go on summer vacations.

“It is extremely concerning because we’re reopening,” Gamble said of the spike in cases.

“As we open up, it seems like we’re not opening up carefully.”

In addition to the 12 cases report Thursday, another seven cases were announced Wednesday.

The county has now reported a total of 125 cases since the first positive test March 24. Of those total cases, 36 are currently active and one person has died. However, the number of new cases has more doubled in the past three weeks, raising concerns about significant community spread.

Most of the recent cases have been from people traveling to vacation destinations that are considered “hot spots” for the coronavirus. Gamble cautioned residents against going on “unessential travel” outside the region and pleaded for people to wear a mask while in public places.

“The wakeup call was a long time ago,” he said. “If you’re going to open up, you have to do it safe. This brings more attention that the order to wear masks is done so for the protection of the entire population if we’re going to open back up safely.”

It took nearly three months for the county to reach 60 cases, but it took just three weeks to reach the next 65 positive tests, more than doubling its total. Gamble said each new case has a larger impact on other people, especially those who are vulnerable to the disease.

“What happens to the people who are impacted by you getting sick? It’s why we’re wearing mask,” Gamble said. Those 12 cases (Thursday) are going to have a larger impact than 12 individuals not being able to work. It’s going to hit other folks.”

Meanwhile, the Marshall County Health Department announced one new case Thursday, bringing that county’s total to 62.

That health department and West Virginia National Guard are conducting free COVID-19 testing today and tomorrow.

The testing today will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at McMechen City Hall and again Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Marshall County Health Department in Moundsville.

The testing is available to everyone, including people who may be asymptomatic. Those tested must bring identification, and children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

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