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Belmont County records 23rd COVID-19 death

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont County Deputy Health Director Robert Sproul reported the 23rd death of an individual positive with the COVID-19 coronavirus Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, we have a male in his 80s (who) has passed away,” Sproul said in a text message Wednesday afternoon.

He elaborated that the man had been hospitalized.

On Tuesday he had reported no new cases and three of the 600 total positive cases had been taken off Belmont County’s official numbers due to questions of their residency. On Wednesday, total cases were back to 600, with 536 recoveries and 38 active non-hospitalized cases. The recent death brings the number of people hospitalized from six to five.

Sproul could not be reached for further comment that day. Due to scheduling conflicts, he could not make his regular report to the Belmont County board of commissioners.

Of the prior 22 deaths, nine were inmates of Belmont Correctional Institution. The prison, located west of St. Clairsville and housing nearly 2,400 inmates, was described as a “hot spot” by state officials as the virus began spreading in Belmont County, although the prison currently seems to have infection under control.

Sproul has said the majority of deaths have been people 60 or older and who have had underlying conditions. The last death occurred in early June and numbers of new coronavirus cases appear to be slowing after a spike in new infections brought on by travel to South Carolina and Florida.

On Wednesday, Sproul also spoke to the superintendents of Belmont County’s schools about options for opening in fall while keeping to state safety guidelines.

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