Spike of recoveries brings active COVID cases below 35

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The Belmont County Health Department shared good news Thursday, reporting that several additional residents have recovered from COVID-19.

According to Deputy Health Director Robert Sproul, there are now fewer than 35 people with active infections.

Since the pandemic arrived in the local area in March, a total of 729 county residents have tested positive for the coronavirus. Now, Sproul said, 672 of them have recovered and 27 quarantined at home.

The county did report two new cases Thursday, but for much of the week numbers in Belmont County have remained the same.

“A good number of people that we had a few weeks ago, finally we got them off quarantine. It’s been … very good, positive,” Sproul said.

Sproul said five residents remain hospitalized with the virus, and 25 people have died after being infected in Belmont County, including nine inmates of the Belmont Correctional Institution.

He said one of the newest cases arose from the prison system, but so far none of the community spread has been attributed to school reopenings.

Belmont County initially had very high numbers of infections compared to surrounding areas. Sproul has speculated that this was due to the presence of major highways that allowed travelers to bring the virus to this area early, and because of the presence of the prison. The correctional center was declared a “hot spot” of COVID activity by the state after a substantial portion of the inmates and staff were infected.

Currently, Sproul said, the virus seems to be under control in Belmont County.

“I’m trying to be cautiously optimistic. Hopefully we’re on the right path,” he said. “Some areas I’d like to see better, but for the most part it looks like people are doing the right things.”

He said it is too early to tell if this is a sign of a growing trend in recoveries.

“It’s really hard to say, because if you look at West Virginia, their numbers are creeping up a little bit,” he said, adding that neighboring Harrison County also had a recent outbreak in a Cadiz nursing home, which caused Harrison County to be designated “orange” in the state’s color-coded alert system, a level higher than the low-risk “yellow” category where Belmont, Jefferson and Monroe counties are rated.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, the first of three successive pop-up testing events for the virus will be held at Barnesville Memorial Park. Testing sites will be held at the same time across from Bellaire High School on Sept. 26 and at the Ohio University Eastern campus Oct. 4. Testing is free and results will be returned soon, Sproul said.

“We’ve got everything pretty much ready to go,” Sproul said.

Sproul also said the state has begun placing information about new cases in Ohio’s school district at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

“Every Tuesday they’re going to put up all the school districts in Ohio, with any number of positives within those schools,” he said.

Harrison County Health Department also reported the good news that nine additional residents there have recovered from infections. Despite the nursing facility outbreak, the county’s number of active infections declined from 29 to 20 with that report.


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