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BLUEFIELD — The coronavirus pandemic is showing no signs of slowing in Mercer County with two new cases being confirmed by health officials Tuesday. One of the new infections involved community transmission of the virus, according to the Mercer County Health Department.

There have now been 26 new coronavirus cases reported in Mercer County in the last two weeks, continuing a troubling surge in new infections. The two new cases on Tuesday brings the county’s cumulative total of virus cases to date to 39.

Matthew Bragg, sanitarian for the Mercer County Health Department, said one of the two new cases reported Tuesday was the result of community transmission of the virus. 

The health department is now estimating that 36 percent of the new cases over the past two weeks are the result of the virus spreading within the community. Bragg said another 44 percent of the cases are attributed to travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C., and 20 percent involve travel to other locations.

Bragg said those individuals involved in the new cases have been ordered to isolate. He said contact tracing has been completed in the new cases. 

Contact tracing involves locating those individuals who had direct contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient. Due to potential exposure to the virus, those individuals also are required by health officials to quarantine for a period of two weeks.

But in one bit of good news Tuesday, Bragg confirmed that another patient in Mercer County who had the virus has now recovered, and is out of isolation. That means 14 of the 39 cases in Mercer County involve people who have recovered from COVID-19.

In an interview earlier this week with the Daily Telegraph, Public Health Officer Dr. Kathy Wides said the first Mercer County case was reported on March 15. From that date to June 19, Mercer only had 13 cases of coronavirus.

However, from June 20 to Tuesday, the county has reported a surge of 26 new cases.

Of the individuals who tested positive, Wides said four were related to travel to North Carolina — Lake Norman and Wilmington — 10 were related to travel to Myrtle Beach, and one was related to travel to Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 3,703 people in Mercer County had been tested for COVID-19. So the percentage of people with the virus versus those who have been tested is still low. Also no virus-related deaths have been reported in Mercer County to date.

A new COVID-19 case also was reported Tuesday morning in Monroe County, bringing the total number of active cases in Monroe to three. Monroe County’s cumulative total of virus cases stands at 11.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

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