CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A fourth employee at the Kanawha County Judicial Annex has tested positive for COVID-19, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department announced on Thursday.
The employee last had access to the building through March 20, resulting in the Judicial Annex closure being extended to April 6.
Dr. Sherri Young, the chief health officer and executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department (KCHD) told the media that including that fourth case there are 15 positive COVID-19 cases in the county as of Thursday afternoon. Seven of the 15 cases are people currently hospitalized.
Young stressed that the age ranges for the cases in the county are wide.
“We want to be very careful of course with the people who are elderly but we want to make sure that we get the message out that young people are getting this disease as well,” she said.
Three of the four cases at the Kanawha Judicial Annex were people working on the same floor, Young said. As the building is closed, the West Virginia Supreme Court and Kanawha County Prosecutors Office have agreed to move Magistrate Court to City Center East in Kanawha City.
Tim Armstead, the Chief Justice for state Supreme Court said they have waived some rules to allow the county to do more proceedings remotely. Armstead that includes certain criminal proceedings, domestic violence proceedings, and abuse/neglect proceedings relating to children.
“We certainly share the concern that the county has expressed and the city of Charleston has expressed,” Armstead said.
“We want to do all that we can to ensure the health and safety, not only of those employees the court has inside that building, but of litigants, witnesses, and all who have step foot in there.”
Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango said on Thursday that the commission was contacted last Friday of a possible case from an employee there. He said there was limited access for about 10 employees on Saturday to various parts of the building before it was shut down later that day when the first positive case was confirmed.
The building underwent a deep clean on Saturday and Sunday.
Judicial Annex employees are asked to isolate themselves until April 6 and should monitor their temperatures twice daily, Young said. The KCHD release said that if fevers increase or they have other symptoms-cough, shortness of breath-they should contact their health care providers.
Kanawha County Sheriff Mike Rutherford said during the press conference that three deputies are headed into self-isolation for 14 days this weekend, but could not give details other then they had been in “areas we are concerned about.”
He said a couple more deputies could also move to self-isolation in the coming days.
“They have no symptoms whatsoever. It’s a precautionary matter, there’s no indication of anything but we are just being on the safe side to protect them and their families,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford added that deputies are required to have their temperatures taken every day. The sheriff said all deputies have been equipped with hand sanitizer, masks, and protective gear.
During the press briefing, Young also said that the department should receive its first reports of test results back from the Brookdale Charleston Gardens on Thursday evening. The second batch of the 81 total tests should come on Friday morning, Young said.
A resident at the senior living home in Charleston tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday. KCHD has been working with the center on not allowing any more visitors and looking at logs of recent visitors.