Schools still planning to reopen with safeguards against COVID-19
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont County’s total COVID-19 coronavirus cases continues to hover just below 650, with a slow increase in new cases during the weekend and no change Monday from Sunday’s 648 positives, 585 recoveries, and 37 active cases with patients in isolation at home.
A third person, a man in his 60s, has been hospitalized with the virus. Four previously hospitalized people have recovered and a total of 23 people have died while infected.
This includes nine inmates at Belmont Correctional Institution just West of St. Clairsville.
While many traditional summer events have been canceled and a brief spike in cases caused by traveling and by some celebrations around the July 4 holiday seems to have passed, the next consideration is the planned reopening of Belmont County’s multiple school districts.
Belmont County Deputy Health Director Robert Sproul and his department continue to work with school officials as they hope to start the school year with students attending classes five days a week.
“That’s their goal. That’s what they’re hoping for,” Sproul said.
“We’ve met with the nurses. The cafeteria workers we still have to meet with. Just going over some guidance and answering their questions going forward,” he said. “It was a very, very good meeting.”
He continued to emphasize flexibility in planning.
“We’re dealing with a novel virus and we’re just going to have to work through it,” Sproul said.
Sproul and other health departments also continue to await word from Gov. Mike DeWine’s office. Days ago, the Ohio Liquor Board approved the governor’s plan to have last calls at 10 p.m. at bars, giving patrons until 11 p.m. to finish their drink. Sproul said the order came after DeWine’s office considered late-night drinking a possible factor in public carelessness and lack of social distancing.
He said so far there is no indication of any further such orders.
“Right now it’s kind of quiet, which is good,” he said. “We’ll just have to wait and see what comes out of Columbus.”
Although many events have been canceled, St. Clairsville’s summer concert series continues at 7 p.m. today, with social distancing and other precautions strictly observed. Talk is also ongoing about holding a St. Clairsville fall festival to make up for the accustomed Community Day in midsummer.