30th COVID-related death occurs in Belmont County
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — COVID-19 claimed another Belmont County life last week, bringing the total number of infected residents who have died to 30.
Belmont County Deputy Health Director Robert Sproul said Friday that the latest person to die after being infected with the virus was a man in his 80s.
This marks the fifth coronavirus-related death in the county in the past two weeks during a surge of new cases. Prior to this, the number of deaths had remained at 25 for several months.
Sproul on Friday reported a total of 1,739 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the county and 867 recoveries since the pandemic arrived in the region, with 19 residents now hospitalized after becoming infected.
The number of people isolated at home with active cases has increased to 823. A week ago on Nov. 15, the number of active cases was in the mid-600s.
On Wednesday, 226 tests were conducted in the Ohio University Eastern parking lot with the assistance of the Ohio National Guard. Sproul said his office is still awaiting those test results.
The increase in coronavirus cases across the state prompted Gov. Mike DeWine to put a 21-day 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in place beginning this past Thursday. Stricter penalties were also implemented for retailers not enforcing masking orders among employees and customers, with non-compliance resulting in a written warning for a first offense then a closure of up to 24 hours. Gatherings of more than 10 people and activities such as dancing at wedding receptions are also forbidden.
There has been an increase in the number of Level 3, or red, counties listed on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System’s color-coded risk assessment map. Ohio now has its first Level 4, or purple, county in Franklin County, and Lake, Lorain and Montgomery counties are on track for that status as well.
Belmont County, meanwhile, is still at Level 2, or orange, but Sproul has said this is most likely due to residents seeking medical help outside the state
Most area schools began fall classes with in-person education, but all but one of Belmont County’s school districts are now operating remotely or with a hybrid of remote and in-person learning. The Bridgeport Exempted Village School District still offers in-person education five days per week.
In the majority of these cases, school officials believe infected or quarantined students and staff were exposed to the coronavirus outside the school buildings, from the larger community.