By CHARLES OWENS

Bluefield Daily Telegraph 

PRINCETON — Sixteen individuals at the Princeton Health Care Center were hospitalized Sunday night as a result of COVID-19, Bill Crouch, cabinet secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, said Monday.

“Overnight there were 16 individuals who were hospitalized at Princeton,” Crouch, who spoke during Gov. Jim Justice’s daily COVID-19 briefing, said. “So we have some real concerns. We have been in constant contact with the administration down there, with the CEO.”

Crouch said the state is currently attempting to confirm if there have been additional deaths in Mercer County.

“We have had three reported deaths,” Crouch said of Mercer County. “As some of you are aware, the Mercer County Health Department is in disarray. We have been in contact with them over the weekend and Dr. Ayne Amjad (the state health officer and commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health) has made herself available to provide any assistance that may be needed in Mercer County. We have three reported deaths, but again those deaths are reported through the local health department. We are trying to confirm additional deaths through the health department.”

Justice, who spoke earlier, described the Princeton nursing home outbreak as one of three “super hot spots” in the state for COVID-19.

Another 19 individuals at the Princeton Health Care Center have tested positive for COVID-19, the center said in statement released online.

The latest statement released by the health care center indicated the number of residents and staff members who have tested positive for the virus is now 66.

That’s up from 47 cases on Friday.

State officials have confirmed that two of the three COVID-19 deaths in Mercer County have involved residents of the nursing home.

“All current confirmed/suspected residents are being isolated to specific COVID-19 designated care areas,” the statement said. “Confirmed resident cases are being placed in a separate area and are being cared for by designated/dedicated staff members.”

The statement added that the health care center is treating residents with Zinc, Vitamin C, fever reduction medications, as well as medications to help prevent potential blood clots, when indicated.

The statement further adds that West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Bill Crouch has been in contact with the health center and has asked that testing from the health center be given priority at the state lab to achieve faster test results.

The statement goes on to say, “The list of COVID like symptoms includes but is not limited to; fever, body aches, runny nose, cough, sore throat, pink eye, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, weakness, loss of taste, loss of smell and in severe cases respiratory distress. Some never display symptoms at all.”

Also Monday, the Virginia Department of Health reported six new COVID-19 cases in Tazewell County along with another hospitalization. That brings the cumulative total of virus cases in Tazewell County to date to 98 with six hospitalizations.

All six of those hospitalizations have occurred in recent weeks.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

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