UPDATE | Kanawha County officials urge continued caution to reduce spread of COVID-19

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 10:13 AM EDT
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UPDATE 9/16/20 @ 6:15 p.m.

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Officials with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, City of Charleston and Kanawha County Commission are asking residents to use extra precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

This comes after Kanawha County turned red on the County Alert System Map, which indicates a significant rise of coronavirus cases in the county.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department saw a nearly 20 percent positivity rate from its drive-thru testing event on Monday, said Dr. Sherri Young, health officer and executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

“We are focusing on the tracing and tracking and our ability to go out and test,” Young said. “We’re seeing where the disease is, and we are seeing in fact that it is coming from multiple, multiple places in the community.”

Young said the cases are mainly related to family gatherings, weddings and other events that brought large groups of people together. In the red status, group gatherings are now limited to 10 people, which should help prevent the spread of the virus.

“We will follow whatever directive comes from the Governor’s office, and if that’s the directive that we have to go backwards to control the spread, then we will," Young said about the possibility of having to close bars and restaurants. "We really hope it doesn’t come to that, that the public will, even though that they are COVID-weary, COVID-fatigued, that they still stick with us.”

In red, schools must continue to suspend in-person learning and school-related activities.

According to Kanawha County Schools, the only major change with the change from orange to red is that sports conditioning has to stop, along with all other extracurricular activities. Officials say daily meal deliveries by bus will continue, along with other critical services already in place during remote learning.

“I’m just hoping that everybody respects science and takes this seriously,” Nahla Nimeh-Lewis said. Her daughter is a teacher, and she is afraid the virus could transfer from the classroom back to her and her at-risk husband. “I’d rather them miss out a little bit than be ill. And cause other people, like their parents and grandparents to be ill.”

Young said people must continue to wear masks and follow the guidelines that are in place to reduce the community spread rate, even if they are tired after more than six months since the pandemic reached West Virginia.

“We anticipate the number of cases will continue to rise as we see the full effect of Labor Day weekend activities,” Young said. “We can’t let down our guards. Wear your mask, maintain social distancing, stay home when you’re sick, and frequently wash your hands.”

“The toll this is taking on the children in our community is immeasurable,” said Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin. “We all must take the necessary precautions and do whatever we can to stop the spread of COVID so our youth can resume some semblance of normalcy in their lives. We have to do this for them.”

“Increasing COVID cases puts a strain on our Health Care workers and our Emergency Medical System. We must do our part to stop the spread of this deadly virus,” stated Commission President Kent Carper.

Commissioner Ben Salango stated, “This is a very difficult and frustrating time for all Kanawha Countians. We have to make sure we are wearing masks, and following guidelines so we can begin in-person schooling and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

ORIGINAL STORY 9/16/20 @ 10:13 a.m.

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Kanawha County has turned red on the County Alert System map.

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, the map, which is updated as of September 15, shows that Kanawha County is in the red.

The map says Kanawha County’s number of daily cases per 100,000 on a seven day rolling average is at 25.02.

Kanawha County was at 22.38 as of September 14, meaning they were listed as orange.

This is a developing story.

Keep checking the WSAZ App for the latest information.

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