OHIO VALLEY — As of Saturday morning, there had been four confirmed cases of COVID-19 coronavirus in the Ohio Valley Publishing readership area, with one in Gallia County and three in Mason County, W.Va.
The Gallia case was discovered to be transmitted via community spread and not due to travel, said public health officials. As previously reported, that Gallia patient passed away last week and was the county’s first death related to COVID-19, according to the Gallia County Health Department.
The first confirmed COVID-19 coronavirus case in Mason County was reported Thursday night. In a statement prepared by the Mason County Health Department and released by the Mason County Office of Emergency Services (OES), it was reported a person tested at a Mason County facility had tested positive for COVID-19 and that the person has a recent history of international travel.
Then on Friday, the Mason County Commission was notified by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources of two new cases, bringing Mason County’s total to three confirmed cases of COVID-19. As of press time, no further information had been released as to if the two confirmed cases on Friday in Mason County were defined as travel related or community spread.
Also on Friday, the Gallia Health Department released a statement on social media saying it was notified by Holzer Health System of a positive COVID-19 case that afternoon.
The statement read, “The Gallia County Health Department was notified by Holzer Health System of a positive COVID-19 case. This individual is NOT a resident of Gallia County. The Gallia County Health Department will be working with Holzer Health System to notify all Gallia County residents who could have been in contact with this individual. We will update you when we receive more information.”
According to information received in an electronic communication from a Holzer Health System communications representative, “Holzer is currently treating a patient that has tested positive for COVID-19. All protocols are being followed to ensure safety for patients, family and staff. We remain committed to providing care to all patients during this time, as patient care is our number one priority. Holzer has currently submitted 85 collections for testing. Of those 85 tests, we currently have the following results: 1 positive, 35 negative and 49 pending.”
The health system is utilizing protocols established by the Center for Disease Control and the Ohio Department of Health for COVID-19 screening and treatment.
A statement released by Mason County EMS on Friday, read Dennis Zimmerman, director of Mason County OES and EMS, was contacted by Holzer Medical Center personnel who informed him that a patient Mason County EMS had treated and transported had tested positive for COVID-19. The positive test was confirmed by the Mason County Health Department, the statement further read.
When asked, Zimmerman said due to privacy concerns, he could not give specifics nor confirm or comment on if the patient transported to Holzer was the same person Holzer, as well as the Gallia Health Department officials, referenced earlier in the day.
Transporting COVID-19 positive patients also brings about its own set of protocols.
The statement from Mason County EMS further read, in part, “Mason County EMS has been following all guidelines and protocols suggested by WV DHHR, WVOEMS, and the CDC regarding PPE for persons with signs and symptoms of COVID 19. In the abundance of caution, MCEMS Director Zimmerman, after consultation with their Medical Director and the Mason County Health Department have decided to self-isolate the crew members for 14 days… Rest assured if you need an ambulance we will be there, we are all members of the community as well, and our family will be there to help your family.”
According to Gallia Health Department’s Tyler Schweickart, the department investigates positive infection cases by first seeing whether the infected individual traveled to an area with positive COVID-19 cases in the prior two weeks. The department also makes certain to speak with the positively-tested individual’s family members or anyone who may have come in contact with them. If the department finds symptomatic individuals, they are placed under isolation protocols and those who are showing no symptoms are placed in quarantine for two weeks. The health department continues to seek those who came into contact with symptomatic individuals, starting with the original positive case patient until they find contacts without symptoms. Those individuals are then asked to monitor themselves for any developing symptoms.
Organizations and businesses a positively-tested patient may have visited are alerted to the possibility of contact. The health department then follows the line of any individuals displaying symptoms. Should the health department believe that an individual who was infected attended a larger, public location, the department would contact the location and make a public announcement asking for individuals who had traveled to the location at a specific time in question to contact the department.
The Meigs County Health Department reported there are no confirmed cases in Meigs County as of press time.
Beth Sergent contributed to this article.