by KATE EVANS
An 88-year old Morgan County man has died of COVID-19, health officials announced on November 21. This is the first reported COVID-related death in the county. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) made the announcement in their Saturday update report about the status of coronavirus infection in the state. The death was one of 19 COVID-19 related deaths that the DHHR reported on Saturday.
“As we extend our deepest sympathies to the loved ones, we also encourage all West Virginians to recognize the continued need to take every possible step to slow the spread of this disease,” said DHHR Cabinet Secretary Bill J. Crouch.
Dr. Terrence Reidy of the Morgan-Berkeley County Health Department couldn’t say how recent the death was, only that it hadn’t occurred in the last few days. It may have only recently been verified as a death from COVID-19. He said that sometimes there is a lag in when the Health Department receives the death report because the person may have been hospitalized out of state.
County, state cases
As of Monday, Morgan County had 234 total cases of COVID-19 infection with 207 cumulative cases, 27 probable cases and one death. There are 41 residents still actively ill with the respiratory disease, and 192 residents that have recovered from the virus. In West Virginia, a total of 41,114 people have had the disease.
Around 40% of people can have COVID-19 and be asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms, Dr. Reidy said. They may think what they have isn’t serious.
Reidy said that schools are doing a lot to decrease COVID-19 infection so they’re tending not to see outbreaks there but only single cases that are isolated and contained.
Health officials are seeing community spread in places where people are together for longer periods of time.
That includes churches, birthday parties, funerals, weddings, government offices, warehouses, regular offices, stores, restaurants- — wherever people gather, Reidy said.
Co-workers can infect each other at lunch when they’re not wearing masks and are physically close together and can potentially infect customers, he said.
Reidy encouraged people to avoid large gatherings or events, like Christmas tree lightings.
He said that once people get together it’s hard to not resort to their regular habits like drifting closer if they’re near others. If there’s food available, they’ll take their face mask off and get closer. These behaviors put them more at risk for COVID-19 infection.
Testing this week
The National Guard is offering free COVID-19 testing at the Warm Springs Middle School from noon to 7 p.m. today, Monday, November 23 and on Tuesday, November 24.