Coronavirus cases released by zip code
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The spread of COVID-19 coronavirus cases in Belmont County has been the overarching concern for months. Recently, new information has been released on the health department website specifying how many of the more-than-600 total positive cases have occurred in each zip code of the county, as well as how many active cases are currently in each zip code.
Belmont County Deputy Health Director Robert Sproul officially presented the information to the board of commissioners Wednesday.
“We have kind of held off a little on that just because anytime you can identify a location, a person from the location, you’re violating (the Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act),” he said.
“We felt at this point that it was high enough numbers that we could share that data, so each person could have their own zip code. We’ve put that out. It’s on our website if you want to see it.”
He added this was in response to inquiries from the public.
“Just trying to provide more information,” he said, adding the public was wanting it.
The numbers are expected to change weekly, but as of Wednesday there were two active cases in zip code 43713, or Barnesville; two cases in 43906, or Bellaire; one in 43718, or Bethesda; two in 43912, or Bridgeport and Lansing; one in 43933, or Glencoe; two in 43935, or Martins Ferry and Colerain; one in 43942, or Powhatan Point; three in 43947, or Shadyside and Dillies Bottom, and 18 in 43950, or St. Clairsville, Bannock, Maynard, Blainesville, Barton and Fairpoint.
Since the start of the pandemic, the 43950 zip code has seen the overwhelming majority of cases, with 350, this due to an outbreak of cases among inmates and staff at the Belmont Correctional Institution, located west of St. Clairsville and housing around 2,500 inmates at the time, in conditions which make social distancing and other precautions difficult.
Cases, at times, have also run high in the 43713 zip code, with 61 cases in the Barnesville area code at the east end of Belmont County. The riverside communities have also reported heavy numbers of cases in total, with 40 in 43906; 30 in 43912; and 39 in 43947.
Sproul said factors such as the highway systems including Ohio 7 and I-70 may account for these rates.
“This is all numbers,” he said. “This is prison, assisted care, nursing homes, etc. They’re all in this number. That’s kind of influencing some of the colors there.”
Sproul said his department has been in consultation with community leaders throughout the pandemic, as they have made their preparations and taken precautions. Masks and regular sanitation and cleaning have been instituted at the courthouse and gatherings remain limited to 10 or less, while country officials can be seen by appointment. Municipal buildings are closed at the cities of St. Clairsville and Martins Ferry, and St. Clairsville’s city council continues to hold their meetings over teleconference.
Events such as Betty Zane Days in Martins Ferry, Blame My Roots country music festival west of St. Clairsville, and the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival, all sources of mass gatherings, have been canceled, but communities have been able to continue some activities. The full Belmont County Fair was curtailed, but the junior fair will continue. The Upper Ohio Valley Italian Festival was canceled in Wheeling, but the Bellaire Sons of Italy continued the tradition of making and selling sausage sandwiches last weekend, and quickly sold out of cooked and uncooked sausage.
The annual pumpkin weigh-in will continue without the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival, likely posted online.
The St. Clairsville summer concerts are also continuing at 7 p.m. Tuesdays at the amphitheatre.
Current information about coronavirus cases per zip code can be found at www.belmontcountyhealth.com.