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U.S. seeing new COVID-19 highs; West Virginia contact tracers working to limit spread in Mountain State

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The last week of October is beginning with the United States, as a whole, seeing new daily records for coronavirus cases.

On Oct. 23, analysis from The New York Times showed more than 85,000 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed nationwide which broke a single-day record set back on July 16.

Saturday’s new case total for the U.S. was the second highest for a single day in the pandemic.

Among states, West Virginia was one of more than 30 states where COVID-19 cases were classified as higher and staying high as of Sunday morning, according to Times data.

That category included Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Ohio.

Ohio set a new daily case record on Saturday.

Calls for preventative measures, like hand washing, mask wearing and physical distancing, continued.

Residents were also asked to keep cooperating with contact tracers.

Christina Mullins

“When it comes to slowing the spread of COVID-19, disease investigation and contact tracing are some of our most valuable public health tools,” said Christina Mullins, commissioner for the Bureau for Behavioral Health.

The bureau is part of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

Since August and September, Mullins said those with local health departments in West Virginia, DHHR and the West Virginia National Guard have been using a cloud-based data system to investigate COVID-19 cases and monitor contacts for symptoms.

Mullins estimated more than 400 people were actively using the system statewide for case investigations or contact tracing activities.

In many cases, Mullins said trained students, volunteers and DHHR staff were also being assigned to assist with contact tracing in counties seeing surges.

“All of us can help these efforts,” she said.

For people who test positive for COVID-19, Mullins said isolation was key.

She also asked those with positive test results to provide accurate information to contact tracers.

For people potentially exposed, she said contact tracing calls were coming from local health departments, West Virginia COVID-19 Response or the number 866-611-0661.

“Contact tracing is a critical activity in protecting the lives and safety of our citizens and you can help West Virginia remain strong throughout this COVID-19 pandemic,” Mullins said.

Dr. Clay Marsh, vice president and executive dean of health sciences at West Virginia University and a member of the state coronavirus task force, previously said the next six to 12 weeks may the worst for virus spread in the pandemic.

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