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Sproul reports spike in COVID recoveries

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont County Deputy Health Director Robert Sproul had some good news Wednesday when he gave his update to the board of commissioners.

The county has picked up one additional COVID-19 coronavirus case since Tuesday for a total of 711 positives, but the number of actively infected residents has dropped by half, now at 29 people with the virus.

“Almost a 50-percent reduction,” Sproul said.

There are currently five people hospitalized with the virus, and 25 people have died while infected in Belmont County. This includes nine inmates at the Belmont Correctional Institution west of St. Clairsville.

As schools reopen, his office is alert for any new cases that might arise from those facilities.

In addition, Sproul said decisions are still being made at the state level regarding how new cases in the school districts are reported. They are considering whether to list new cases by school district and if this would violate privacy.

“There’s been some push-back from some health departments on that,” he said. “If we have one positive student in one school district, you’re going to be able to identify that person.”

Sproul added he sees little cause for concern locally should families learn of a positive case in their school, since Sproul’s office continues to work with the schools, and the districts’ methods include assigned seats and regular testing for symptoms, and when there is a new reported case his office will quickly know who to contact-trace.

He recognizes that common symptoms such as allergies, runny noses, and flu are similar to coronavirus symptoms.

“The nurses are going to have a very difficult time keeping track of this. I feel for them. They’re going to work really hard,” Sproul said, adding that the sanitization measures may also reduce cases of conventional illness.

There have been little to no complaints to his office about school or sporting events, but new cases will likely turn up in a week.

Sproul also urges caution and prevention during the coming Labor Day holiday.

“People, be safe. We’re in the midst of trying to go back to school, the midst of sports, a holiday weekend, don’t take us back in the other direction,” he said.

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