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BLUEFIELD — A Mercer County high school was named a COVID-19 outbreak site Thursday as the county’s overall number of confirmed cases continued to climb while in Monroe County, schools were going to remote learning and the courthouse was being closed to the public.

Bluefield High School was named an outbreak site, according to the West Virginia Department of Education. The school had two positive cases as of Wednesday. PikeView Middle School, another outbreak site on the state’s list, had four positive cases Tuesday.

A confirmed outbreak is described as two or more confirmed COVID-19 cases among students/staff from separate households, within a 14-day period in a single classroom or core group, according to state officials. The Current Outbreaks in Schools chart the state Department of Education uses is based on information provided by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR). It is updated as details are made available.

Three positive COVID-19 cases were reported Thursday at PikeView High School, officials with Mercer County Schools said. The three individuals were previously quarantined and were remaining in quarantine. Students and staff known to be exposed to the virus were quarantined.

The Mercer County Health Department was conducting further contact tracing. Deep cleaning and disinfecting of all the school’s affected areas would be completed, school officials said. Another new case of COVID-19 was reported at Straley Elementary School in Princeton. This case was confirmed for a school employee, and the county health department was conducting contact tracing while affected areas were being disinfected.

Mercer County’s total number of positive virus cases rose from 545 to 561, according to figures provided by the county health department. The current number of active cases was 234, and there had been 31 deaths. There were a total of 327 recovered cases.

In Monroe County, school officials announced that all students were transitioning to remote learning today and continuing until Friday, Oct. 23. Students will go back to “A/B blended learning in-school on Monday, Oct. 26.”

This decision was made with local health officials due to the increased cases in the county and not having enough substitutes to cover classes, school officials said. Students will receive their lessons remotely. Next week’s meal distribution schedule for Monroe County students will be announced today.

Since the start of October, Monroe County has seen 33 new cases of COVID–19, according to the Monroe County Health Department. Some cases  could be linked to current outbreaks, but community spread was being seen, too.

Monroe County had a total of 175 confirmed cases as of Wednesday, according to figures provided by the county health department. The current number of active cases was 23, and there had been eight deaths. There were 145 recovered cases.

The number of COVID-19 cases led to the county commission deciding to close the Monroe County Courthouse starting today. The courthouse will be closed until further notice, county officials said. 

Staff at the courthouse’s departments will be working and will try to assist the public by telephone or electronic means, according to County Clerk Donald J. Evans.

“We do a lot by phone and internet and email, whatever way we can,” Evans stated. “We put a drop box out front for deeds and whatever; attorneys can put those in there. It’s not the best, but we make it the best we can.”

People who need to do business can call the courthouse and use its directory, Evans said. 

Evans said no date had been set for reopening the courthouse to the public. The county commission will determine when the public can return.

“They said they were just going to monitor the numbers and take it day by day,” he said.

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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