Mon County Health Officer on local COVID-19 procedures

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Officials in Monongalia County are taking an active approach to identifying and quarantining COVID-19 positive residents in an effort to stop the spread.

On Talkline Mon County Health Officer Dr. Lee Smith says there are 78 cases in the county and contact tracing and monitoring is being conducted.

“If there is a positive person we do active surveillance,” Dr. Lee Smith said,”Meaning, we are required by law to contact the person everyday to see if there are other individuals in their circle that are symptomatic.”

Fourteen WVU students are positive and being monitored by officials and Smith says they had traveled for spring break.

“What we’re not clear on at this time- were there people who became infected while they were at Panama City, Fort Lauderdale, Cancun, or wherever on spring break,”Smith said,”Or did they come back to Morgantown and contract it locally.”

Smith says the actual number of cases in the county is likely low because some people are quarantining and isolating on their own.

“Probably only diagnosing somewhere around 20 percent of the cases, meaning there are other people that have gone into quarantine or they gone into quarantine or they’re self-isolating because they are symptomatic,”Smith said,”So if you multiply that 78 we probably have closer to 140 cases.”

Smith adds that the surge is expected next week and Mon County appears to be ready according to the latest models. Following directives from the governor regarding staying at home will be more important than ever through next week.

“Monongalia County has enough beds, ventilators and hospital staff,”Smith said,”So, we will not fall behind like New York did.”

Smith says using all protective equipment available because the virus is known to remain viable for extended periods of time without a host.

“Even on stainless steel the virus can last a very long time and you don’t get to wipe down the gas pump handle or the key pad when you’re checking out at the grocery store,”Smith said,”So, it’s very important for people to wear the protection they have access to.”