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COVID hospitalizations up in Belmont County

ST. CLAIRSVILLE –The number of active COVID-19 cases is slowly climbing in Belmont County, now totaling 50 people infected and in isolation at home and five hospitalized as of Tuesday.

That brings the county’s total positive test results since March to 777 with 697 recoveries.

Belmont County Deputy Director Robert Sproul had indicated Friday there were 39 positive patients who were self-quarantined. He continues to caution the public to maintain social distancing, mask wearing and other sanitary procedures, noting that while Belmont County has retained a low-risk “yellow” designation on the state’s color-coded alert system, the virus can spread easily and the county’s fortunes could quickly change.

Since the onset of the pandemic, a total of 25 Belmont County residents have died after contracting the disease. These include nine inmates at the Belmont Correctional Institution west of St. Clairsville — a facility that was designated at one point as a “hot spot” of activity in the state due to the high numbers of inmates and personnel who were infected and the difficulty of social distancing in that enclosed setting.

And although there have been several recent recoveries in the county, more people have been admitted to hospitals, bringing Belmont County’s total of hospitalized cases back to five. That number had declined to just two at one point. While older people are commonly more vulnerable to the disease, Sproul said one of the patients recently admitted to a hospital is a man in his 20s.

The current focus of the health department continues to be Belmont County’s school districts, now reopened and operating under strict precautions. There have been positive COVID-19 cases identified among staff and/or students in the Shadyside, Martins Ferry and Union Local school districts. However, school staff members were able to stop the spread and isolate the people who had been exposed to the infected individuals while allowing in-person education to continue.

Monroe Central High School in neighboring Monroe County is closed for the rest of the week for a deep cleaning after two positive cases were found there. Also in the Switzerland of Ohio Local SChool District, Beallsville Elementary/High School previously was closed due to a confirmed case there and the proximity of staff and students within the facility.

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