By CHARLES BOOTHE

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — A fourth person associated with the COVID-19 outbreak at Princeton Health Care Center has died, according to the state Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR).

The DHHR shows 44 total cases have been reported at the facility, 20 residents and 24 staff, with four staff members recovered and four deaths.

No further details were provided by DHHR.

The outbreak, which was reported about two weeks ago, led to 16 people from the facility being taken to the hospital on Sunday.

Stefanie Compton, PHCC administrator, said the facility is facing a difficult task of taking care of not only residents but other staff members as well.

“Our team is working hard to care for our residents that remain at our facility,” she said on the facility’s website Thursday. “We are also trying to care for our staff members who are tired, scared, sad and some that have also become ill. We all want to be here taking care of our PHCC family members.”

But Compton said any staff member currently fighting COVID is not allowed to work and must stay home and quarantine. They have to be cleared through proper protocol before returning to work.

The virus is silent, she said, and in the beginning of being contagious, a person can be completely symptom free. Some later develop symptoms while others never do.

COVID-19 long-term care graphic ..

"It spreads quickly and is known to have an incubation period of up to 14 days," she said. "We have been told by engineers that the COVID virus can be circulated in buildings through centralized HVAC systems. We have taken additional interventions to slow the circulation while maintaining acceptable temperature ranges. We have also increased our interventions related to filtration, as recommended by Army Engineers."

Compton said the medical needs of residents are currently being met by Dr. Ryan Runyon, the Associate Medical Director. Dr. Ayne Amjad, State Medical Officer and Interim Medical Director for the Mercer County Health Department, has also been on site and is involved in the medical care of the residents almost daily.

“We are saddened to report that some of our residents have passed due to this deadly virus,” Compton said. “We are keeping our extended family in our prayers and ask that you do the same. We are also saddened to report that some of our employees have become extremely ill. Our hearts are with them all!”

Compton said the PHCC clinical team members along with the assistance of Stacey Hicks and the Princeton Rescue squad have started the latest round of mass testing, which is expected to be completed today. Results are typically received in three to five days.

Members of the WV National Guard have been on site this week. They are performing decontamination procedures within the facility.

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