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Ohio County health officials confirm COVID-19 death, discuss other cases

WHEELING, W.Va. — The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department announced Monday morning a 69-year old Ohio County man has died from complications connected to COVID-19.

The department said the individual had underlying health conditions and was hospitalized at the time of death, which occurred this past weekend.

The death marks the 9th COVID-19 death in West Virginia and fourth since last Friday. The death was confirmed by the state Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) later on Monday morning.

Ohio County currently has 25 confirmed virus cases according to the DHHR numbers. Howard Gamble, the administrator of the health department says the accurate number is 22 as some cases need to be moved to another state or county.

He told MetroNews he is encouraged by the public’s actions in Ohio County.

“When I go out I see more people taking precautions but I also see the same amount of people in the stores,” Gamble said Monday.

“They are wearing masks, they are washing hands, the stores are taking some unprecedented steps to protect customers and staff.”

Gamble has also been impressed by the public’s precautions around the state and said he can see it in the numbers. The DHHR reported late Monday morning that positive coronavirus test rate still below 4 percent with 626 positive cases.

“We’re beginning to see numbers somewhat level off in the state. Although they are increasing, they are at a smaller increase across West Virginia,” he said.

“Now that leveling can remain that way for days or week, you see small numbers but you see it smaller than the cases done prior.”

Gamble encouraged all residents to remain patient, follow social distancing, only use essential travel and stay clean to flatten the curve.

Ohio County has three test sites including one of the state’s largest at Wheeling Park near the pool, a drive-thru set up by Wheeling Hospital. Other sites include MedExpress in Elm Grove and Doctors Urgent Care.

According to Gamble, two of the county’s 22 cases are current hospitalizations. He said several of the individuals have recovered and are back in the community.

But he warned that just because a person has recovered from COVID-19 doesn’t mean they have immunity. Gamble said the health department is actively monitoring some cases and testing all family and friends of those positive.

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