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COVID cases continue to jump

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — New positive cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 are increasing daily in Belmont County.

Deputy Health Director Robert Sproul reported nine new cases Thursday, bringing the total number of positives to 41 so far, with nine recovered. The nine new positives are four men and five women in their 80s, 50s, 40s, 30s, 20s and teens.

While there is a perception that the elderly are most susceptible to the virus, along with those who have existing medical conditions, Sproul said teenage victims are not unusual with many across the state.

The number of hospitalized cases remains at five. Sproul said one additional person has been hospitalized, while another, a man in his 50s, has been released from hospitalization.

On Wednesday, Sproul had updated the Belmont County commissioners, telling them state and national sources expect cases to begin peaking this week.

The number in the county has jumped daily, from more than 20 cases to more than 30 as announced Wednesday.

The county has also had its first coronavirus-associated death early this week. The deceased was a 92-year-old man with underlying medical conditions.

Sproul has said with each new announcement his staff must work quickly to contact people who might have encountered the new active patient and warn them to self-quarantine. This is further complicated since his office has gone to half staff as a precautionary measure. Another factor is the number of people who utilize private labs for testing, and this has meant a delay in Sproul’s office getting the results.

More than 300 tests had been performed on county residents as of Wednesday.

Sproul has said the number of hospitalized patients is low and there is no concern yet about running low on bed space. The closed East Ohio Regional Hospital in Martins Ferry is being considered as a treatment site should more space be needed.

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