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TAZEWELL, Va. — Although Tazewell County is now up to a cumulative total of 13 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the recent four cases were added as a result of antibody testing and are not contagious.

“The VDH (Virginia Department of Health) has begun testing persons without symptoms for antibodies, which are an indication those persons have had the disease in the past but either did not have symptoms or had mild symptoms,” said County Administrator Eric Young. “They are no longer contagious.”

Young said the antibody testing helps VDH track the spread of the disease and seek out where it may still be active.

“However because they are not contagious VDH will not disclose their location,” he said of the specifics needed in active cases for contact tracing. “These most recent reported positives where such cases.”

Dr. Sue Cantrell, director of the Cumberland Plateau and LENOWISCO Health Districts, which includes Tazewell County, said the antibody tests that are positive are only included after being confirmed by the VDH.

That confirmation is a longer process and includes an interview with the person related to previous symptoms, if any, onset of symptoms and medical records if they saw someone.

Cases usually involve people who may have had some symptoms earlier but did not know what caused them. When it is confirmed they actually did have the virus through the antibody testing and interviewing process, they are counted as a positive case, but will be long past the contagious stage.

The positive case number totals for each county is a cumulative number, she said, and is not an indicator that any of those cases are still necessarily active and potentially contagious.

However, even if those cases may not be contagious people should keep their guard up and continue practicing safety protocols, she said, including facial coverings, physical distancing and hand-washing.

“It is still here,” she said of COVID-19. “It is in our communities. The real concern now is that people seem to get tired of this and we are getting complacent.”

But with summer-time travel and surges in many other states, now is not the time to stop protecting yourself and others from the virus, she said.

That is especially true for this region, which has a large percentage of elderly residents who are more prone to the effects of the virus.

“They are at a much higher risk,” she said, adding that staying at home unless it is necessary to go out remains the best and safest strategy for anyone, especially those at high risk.

“We are going to see more cases,” she said. “It is about how we behave.”

Following safety precautions is especially important as counties prepare for the start of school in August.

“We need to get back on track before it is time for school to start,” she said, adding that being cautious and vigilant will continue to be necessary in order to “ride this out” until a vaccine is available.

— Contact Charles Boothe at


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