By CHARLES BOOTHE 

and CHARLES OWENS

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON —  Gov. Jim Justice sent the National Guard to the Princeton Health Care Center to test all residents and staff there after a major outbreak of COVID-19.

“Twenty people have tested positive (new positives) at a Princeton nursing home,” he said during his pandemic briefing today. “The National Guard, under my order, is running to the fire.”

Justice said they are going to test everybody (residents and staff).

“We are trying in every way we can to suppress this,” he said.

Justice has had the policy of “running to fire” when an outbreak occurs, especially at nursing homes.

Bill Crouch, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DDHR), said the outbreak at Princeton Health Center long-term care facility has resulted in 31 positive cases so far, with 12 patients and 19 staff.

More testing is being done now and the National Guard started last week in testing all 102 patients and 188 staff, with 54 test results still pending and should come in this afternoon.

“We are working closely with the Mercer County Health Department,” he said.

In a statement released Monday, the Princeton Health Care Center said 30 individuals, including residents and employees, have tested positive for COVID-19 since March. As of last Friday, that number was five employees and five residents for a total of 10 cases. Another 20 cases have now been reported.

The statement said the health care center completed a mass testing of all 279 residents and employees last week and is now planning for weekly mass testing at the facility.

“We have requested additional assistance from local and state health officials and also requested assistance of the National Guard for testing purposes,” the statement said.

The statement went on to say that all current residents who are symptomatic and/or confirmed cases are being isolated to specific COVID-19 designated care areas. Those individuals are being cared for by designated/dedicated staff members, the statement added.

“We remain committed to increased resident and staff surveillance related to potential symptoms and overall prevention of the virus,” the statement added. “All of our residents have been and continue to be monitored frequently for signs/symptoms of COVID-19.”

In other local virus-related developments Monday, the McDowell County Health Department is urging all individuals who participated in a community night swim at Linkous Park in Welch to self-monitor for signs of the virus for the next 14 days.

The health department statement said those who participated in the community swim may have been exposed to an individual who is a confirmed COVID-19 case.

The statement said those who self-monitor should watch for the following symptoms: Fever, muscle aches, runny nose, sore throat, cough, nausea and/or vomiting, headache, and change in smell or taste.

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