New testing looks to stop Kanawha County COVID-19 cluster

Published: Apr. 1, 2020 at 10:50 AM EDT
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Another employee at Kanawha County's judicial annex has tested positive for COVID-19.

Kanawha-Charleston health officials said seven employees have tested positive for the virus since March 21. The spouse of one of those employees has also tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of cases related to the building to eight.

"We need to stay at home, we need to take care of each other," Dr. Sherri Young said. "We need to minimize our exposure out into the community."

Young said the county now has more testing capabilities and a larger capacity to handle this increase. That includes new rapid testing that can give results in just 10 minutes.

"We are very fortunate to have received some rapid testing, which we are going to use for our disease outbreak investigations, including this annex," Young said. "The testing itself, this is taking so long that it does really hamper the investigation as far as knowing where some of them are. So, we are very fortunate to have some of this testing."

The Health Department doesn't have enough tests to check everyone in the county or even all judicial annex employees because of a national shortage, Young said. They are asking anyone associated with the annex who has symptoms to call them to get one of these rapid tests.

"With this limited testing supply that we have, I want to be able to gear up, go out and test if we see any more in suspect places like dialysis centers or long-term nursing facilities," Young said.

Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango said this seventh employee to test positive has not been in the building since March 19, 2020. The building has been thoroughly cleaned and cleared since and does not plan to reopen until April 6.

Young said no decision has been made about possibly extending that closure.

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