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Belmont County reporting 20 COVID deaths

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — COVID-19 related deaths and cases continue to increase in Belmont County, along with a sharp rise in recoveries.

Belmont County Deputy Health Director Robert Sproul said the latest numbers put total coronavirus-related deaths at 20, counting eight inmates of Belmont Correctional Institute. The prison houses almost 2,500 and has been designated a “hot spot” of infection by Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, particularly due to the high number of infected staff members.

A total of 96 employees have tested positive, with 65 recoveries. Members of the Ohio National Guard have been called in to assist, along with troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol at the perimeter.

A total of 86 inmates have tested positive, with 89 recoveries and six waiting for test results. The website coronavirus.ohio.gov lists eight inmate deaths, but several of the most recently deceased have not been attributed to Belmont County by the Ohio Department of Health.

Sproul said at least some inmates were transported elsewhere for treatment and likely died outside of the county.

On Tuesday, he reported 472 total positive cases in Belmont County, with 405 recoveries and four people hospitalized.

“I have a call into ODH for clarification,” Sproul said in a text, adding he is awaiting word of the official number of deaths to be listed at 20.

Sproul said the latest two deaths outside the prison were at a nursing home and a group home.

Both were men and in their 60s and 70s. Like the other coronavirus-related deaths, there were underlying health issues involved.

The positive cases increased from Monday’s 461 positives and a spike from 330 recoveries.

DeWine put a focus on nursing homes last week, with National Guard personnel to be made available to assist in testing staff. According to coronavirus.ohio.gov, resident or staff cases have been confirmed at ResCare John Avenue Home intermediate care facility in St. Clairsville, ResCare Mount Hope Home in Flushing, Sienna Hills Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation outside Adena, ResCare Airport Road Homes Individual ICFs in St. Clairsville, and Belmont Manor in St. Clairsville.

Also Walton Retirement Home in Barnesville released a statement Saturday reporting some residents have been infected.

There have been numerous nationwide protests across the country. Sproul urges protestors to maintain social distancing, face coverings and good hygiene practices during their assemblies.

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