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Nursing homes' testing results released by state

HUNTINGTON — The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has released the results of the statewide COVID-19 testing of residents and staff at nursing homes.

More than 100 nursing homes had their entire staff and all residents tested for the novel coronavirus, as ordered by Gov. Jim Justice. Testing finished up two weeks ago but the results were not fully reported until Monday.

Five long-term care facilities in Cabell County were tested. No positive cases were identified among the 462 residents in the five facilities. Five staff members tested positive: one at Cabell Health Care Center, one at Heritage Center and three at Madison Park Healthcare.

In Wayne, only the Wayne Nursing & Rehabilitation Center was tested. Thirty of the 41 residents tested positive and 34 of 80 staff members tested positive. All seven of the county’s COVID-19-related deaths were at the center.

In Putnam County, two facilities were tested — Putnam Center and Teays Valley Center. No cases were identified at Putnam Center, while one resident and five staff members tested positive at Teays Valley Center. There were 11 facilities tested in Kanawha County, with five facilities having positives.

Eastbrook Center had the most, with 19 residents and 16 staff members testing positive for COVID-19, along with three deaths. Riverside Health and Rehabilitation Center had 14 residents and 16 staff members test positive, with four deaths. Marmet Center had two residents and seven staff members test positive.

Other positives in Kanwaha County were identified:

  • One staff member at Glasgow Health and Rehabilitation Center.
  • One staff member at Meadowbrook Acres.

In Logan County, two facilities were tested, but only Trinity Health Care of Logan has positives — one resident of 122 and two staff members of 157.

No positive cases were found at facilities in Mason, Lincoln, Boone or Mingo counties.

As state health officials have said, the testing represents just one moment in time. It does not mean that the novel coronavirus has not or will not find its way into these facilities that house one of the most vulnerable populations.

But Marty Wright, CEO of the West Virginia Health Care Association that represents more than 120 nursing homes, assisted living facilities and retirement communities, said West Virginia has been aggressive in its approach to preventing the spread of the new disease. West Virginia was the first in the nation to order testing at all long-term care facilities.

“Early on in this when the virus happened, all nursing homes instituted aggressive, proactive measures such as screenings of staff and visitor restrictions,” Wright said. “Additionally, facilities have rigorous infectious control policies in place. As the virus spreads in communities and even gets into facilities, those policies can prevent the further spread.”

All staff members must wear proper personal protective equipment such as masks and gowns, which also helps prevent the spread from staff members who may be asymptomatic.

Wright said West Virginia has been at the forefront of protecting this vulnerable population, but moving forward, especially as more businesses reopen, they must ensure that these facilities are able to still access the protective gear they need.

Testing is now underway at all assisted-living facilities, as well as day-care centers.

St. Joseph Catholic School sends farewell to seniors, students with parade

HUNTINGTON — High school seniors, students and families at St. Joseph Catholic School in Huntington said their final farewells of the academic year Wednesday afternoon with a parade caravan as teachers and staff lined the sidewalk of 6th Avenue with balloons and signs of encouragement.

Since St. Joseph students live in various areas of West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, Principal Carol Templeton said they had to think outside the box and “bring them to us.”

“As we come to the end of our academic year, we just wanted the opportunity to bring our St. Joe family together and show our Irish pride,” Templeton said. “So this is a special day to finish out the year to celebrate all graduating students as well.”

Samantha Acord, high school history teacher, has been teaching full time at St. Joe for five years and said she has watched many of the graduating seniors grow up since their freshman year.

“It’s exciting to be able to spend some time, even at a distance, with them,” Acord said.

“You get attached to them. They’re like your own kids, and some of the students that are graduating today, I’ve had most of them (in class) and a few of them I’ve had all four years.”

Acord said while a socially distanced parade isn’t the way staff would normally finish out the school year, she hopes it was still a memorable day for the students.

“It’s been so much work for them to get to this point and graduation is the highlight of these years of being in school, and not to have the usual is very difficult, but we’re trying to make it as special as we can under the circumstances,” she said. “I’ve told students in several Zoom meetings, the thing about life is there is no certainty and you have to learn to go with the circumstances, so this has been a lesson for them that is part of adulthood, and I think it’s going to be a part of what shapes them.”

The 167th Airlift Wing and 130th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard honor front-line COVID-19 health care and first responders with a flyover on Wednesday, May 13, 2020, in Huntington.

Ten-year-old London Hardwick attempts to catch a football as she jumps into the pool on July 4, 2019, at Dreamland Pool in Kenova. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the pool will not open in 2020.

Tanning salons added to fourth phase of opening

CHARLESTON — After receiving “a zillion” calls from tanning bed salon owners, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday that tanning salons will be permitted to reopen during the fourth phase of his “comeback plan,” which begins May 21.

May 21 will also see openings of in-house dining at restaurants and large specialty retail shops, as well as outdoor recreation rentals.

On Wednesday, Justice urged the businesses still unable to open, such as entertainment venues, to be patient.

“We’re working it,” Justice said. “We’re working as diligently as we possibly can. We’re doing so in absolutely trying to do the obvious — and that is, no question, bring us back from the standpoint of economics and all that, but we’ve got to remember we really need to take baby steps in this.”

Justice also urged West Virginians to continue to take precautions and follow the guidelines of wearing a face covering, washing hands and maintaining physical distance.

“This virus isn’t going anywhere,” he said. “I mean, it’s right here. It could be right on this desk.”

While Justice urged citizens to take the proper measures to protect the elderly, state coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh said it is important to protect every family member despite their age.

Marsh said he didn’t want to alarm people, but the virus does have an effect on younger generations. In New York, at least five children have died from an inflammatory disease after being exposed to COVID-19, and more than 100 similar cases have been diagnosed.

Only 18% of West Virginia’s positive cases have been between the ages of newborn and 29, but two 25-year-old people have died.

One new death related to COVID-19 was reported Wednesday, a 70-year-old man from Kanawha County, bringing the state’s total to 59.

There were 26 new positive cases reported Wednesday, bringing the total to 1,404. As of 5 p.m., there have been 67,110 laboratory results received for COVID-19, with 65,706 negative.

Confirmed cases by county are: Barbour (seven), Berkeley (196), Boone (nine), Braxton (two), Brooke (three), Cabell (52), Clay (two), Fayette (36), Gilmer (eight), Grant (six), Greenbrier (eight), Hampshire (10), Hancock (12), Hardy (23), Harrison (34), Jackson (136), Jefferson (92), Kanawha (188), Lewis (four), Lincoln (five), Logan (14), Marion (46), Marshall (23), Mason (14), McDowell (six), Mercer (12), Mineral (26), Mingo (three), Monongalia (114), Monroe (six), Morgan (17), Nicholas (eight), Ohio (37), Pendleton (five), Pleasants (two), Pocahontas (two), Preston (14), Putnam (29), Raleigh (10), Randolph (five), Ritchie (one), Roane (eight), Summers (one), Taylor (eight), Tucker (four), Tyler (three), Upshur (six), Wayne (93), Wetzel (six), Wirt (three), Wood (44) and Wyoming (one).

In Ohio, one new positive case was identified in Lawrence County after several days of no new cases, according to the Lawrence County Health Department, bringing the total positive cases to 26. All but two of the patients have recovered, and no one has died.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine did not have a press briefing Wednesday. There were 471 new positive cases reported in the state Wednesday, for a total of 25,721, and 47 new deaths, for a total of 1,483.

In Kentucky, the Ashland-Boyd County Health Department reported one new positive case of COVID-19 — a 23-year-old man who is hospitalized. There have been 38 cases identified in Boyd County, with 26 recovered.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear released a list of 10 rules for businesses to reopen. The rules include telework to the greatest extent possible, onsite temperature checks, universal masks and other protective gear, closing common areas and having special accommodations for vulnerable employees.

There were 227 new positive cases reported in Kentucky on Wednesday, bringing the total to 7,080. Five new deaths were also reported, for a total of 326.

In the U.S., a total of 1,364,061 cases of COVID-19 have been reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have been 82,246 deaths related to the virus.