By CHARLES OWENS

and CHARLES BOOTHE

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Another resident of the Princeton Health Care Center has died as a result of COVID-19, officials confirmed Friday. Mercer County’s coronavirus death toll has now climbed to 17.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources confirmed the death of a 97-year old male from Mercer County.

“The continued loss of West Virginia lives weighs heavily on all of us, with the greatest sadness borne by family and friends,” Bill J. Crouch, DHHR Cabinet Secretary, said.

The 17th COVID-19 death is connected to the Princeton Health Care Center, according to Brenda Donithan, interim administrator of the Mercer County Health Department.

That brings the number of residents who have died at the Princeton Heath Care Center as a result of COVID-19 to 17. The nursing home is a major COVID-19 hot spot in West Virginia. All 16 prior deaths in Mercer County also were connected to the nursing home.

A statement released by the health care center Friday didn't mention the 17th death, but said there have been 88 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the nursing home since the beginning of the pandemic back in March. The statement added that there are currently 27 active resident cases and nine active employee cases.

"All of our residents have been and continue to be monitored frequently for signs/symptoms of COVID-19," the statement from Stefanie Compton, PHCC administrator, said. "Any resident that displays potential signs/symptoms of COVID-19 are immediately placed on isolation precautions pending COVID-19 testing. We have seen some with symptoms that test negative, only to become positive on later tests. If a resident is confirmed to have a positive COVID-19 test, they are then immediately moved in to the COVID positive unit, where they are cared for by our dedicated staff members."

The statement from Compton said the nursing home team along with the Air National Guard completed another round of mass testing Tuesday. She said members of the National Guard were also on-site last week to perform decontamination procedures.

The DHHR said Friday there are currently 164 active COVID-19 cases in Mercer County. The number of confirmed cases stands at 218 with 17 deaths. One probable case of the virus also has been reported for Mercer County.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com