COVID-19 cases show sharp incline; more positive cases recorded at Morgantown nursing home

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Confirmed coronavirus cases in West Virginia, which doubled Tuesday, continued to show a significant jump Wednesday morning.

Charleston Area Medical Center reported 17 confirmed cases, Ohio County reported its first two cases while Sundale nursing home in Morgantown now has 20 cases, which includes 16 residents and 4 staff members.

Dr. Cathy Slemp

“I think this is what we were expecting to happen with a slow curve that begins to increase,” state Health Officer Dr. Cathy Slemp said Wednesday on MetroNews “Talkline.”We definitely are moving into a new phase where we have transmission in communities.”

The state DHHR website jumped from 20 confirmed cases Monday night to 39 Tuesday night. Some of the CAMC numbers and confirmed cases from other locations hadn’t been added by midday Wednesday.

Sundale Medical Director Dr. Carl Shrader said tests on 50 residents and 26 staff members are pending. He said they are taking steps to separate those who have already tested positive. There are 11 residents at the home while three are hospitalized at Ruby Memorial and two at Mon General.

“Right now we’re very fortunate where they appear very stable,” Shrader said on “Talkline.” “We’re in the process now of having a unit defined for this patient population where we can cohort them and have consistent staff going into that area where we can prevent further spread in the building.”

Shrader said Sundale was doing fine Wednesday morning with equipment and supplies.

“There’s been an outpouring of support including from the Charleston Health Command,” he said. “We are in overall good shape.”Shrader said Sundale was prepared but there’s really no script or playbook. He said they were able to prepare somewhat because of the coronavirus hitting other states first. He said expects some of the pending 76 test results to come back positive.

“We expect to see more positives if it follows the trend so far,” he said.

He said if they become overwhelmed the WVU Medicine Command Center and it COVID unit is ready to step in to help if necessary.

Shrader said they’ve gone back and tracked visitors and staff members coming in and out of the building but they still don’t know how the virus entered the home.

“Quite honestly there’s just no clear path to that answer that I can see,” he said.

Slemp predicted the number of confirmed cases statewide would continue to increase. The length of that increase is difficult to predict, she said.

“I don’t think any of us have crystal balls but it is certainly concerning. I think we all need to do is buckle down and do that social distancing that we can do,” Slemp said.

Gov. Jim Justice’s stay-at-home order took effect Tuesday night.

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