COVID-19 Cases Up in Ohio County
WHEELING — Ohio County has seen an active week of rising COVID-19 diagnoses, with 15 new cases being reported across the county since Friday, 11 of which occurred at West Liberty University.
In a letter sent to students Wednesday, WLU President Stephen Greiner said the university reported 11 new cases since Friday, which he pointed out was a half-percent positivity rate — “which is low,” he states. The afflicted students were sent home to recover in isolation.
“We encourage all our students and staff to remain safe by avoiding large gatherings and parties and to wear your mask in any circumstance where social distancing is difficult. Personal responsibility is vital to stop the spread,” Greiner states.
Ohio County Health Administrator Howard Gamble said that three other COVID-19 cases were detected in workers at Wheeling Hospital’s Continuous Care Center, two of whom live in Ohio County. He was not immediately sure where the other patient resides. Two other cases were detected among the community, bringing the total to 15 active cases out of 312 total, four probable cases and six deaths.
Gamble said the increase in cases moves the county up to yellow on the state’s County Alert Map, but the map mostly focuses on how school districts are to operate. Yellow status indicates 3.1 to 9.9 cases per 100,000 people, while orange and red indicate 10 to 24.9 and more than 25 cases per 100,000, respectively.
“Not until you get to orange and red does it make major impacts on education,” Gamble said. “We did give the schools advance notice on Monday that we were beginning to see an uptick in cases … “
Ohio County Schools spokesman Gabe Wells said the district would defer to Gamble’s direction, and that no changes at the county level are currently being made.
Gamble said the COVID-19 spread “kind of represents what (the health department sees) in a week,” aside from the spike from West Liberty and the Wheeling Hospital facility. Classes at West Liberty began Aug. 15. WLU officials said cleaning and sanitation is being done to disinfect areas where people who tested positive have been. They also encouraged the use of facemasks, social distancing and good hand washing.