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BLUEFIELD — Health officials have ordered 91 people in Mercer County to isolate for two weeks due to potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus. At the same time, the pandemic showed no signs of slowing Thursday with three more new virus cases being reported in Mercer.

Mercer County has now confirmed 17 new coronavirus cases in the last 10 days with a cumulative total of 30 infections to date. That includes 13 people who have already recovered from the virus.

Matthew Bragg, sanitarian for the Mercer County Health Department, said the majority of the new cases are the result of travel. In fact, more than half of the new infections involved individuals who traveled to Myrtle Beach, S.C, which is a virus hot spot.

Another 25 percent of the new cases involve travel to other areas, Bragg said. The remaining active cases are being attributed to community transmission of the virus, including cohabiting family members, Bragg said.

Bragg also confirmed Thursday that 91 people in Mercer County have been ordered to isolate for a two-week period as a result of the 17 new virus cases. All 91 people were identified through contact tracing, which means at some point they came into direct contact with one of the 17 active virus cases in the county and could have been exposed to the virus.

Bragg said all 91 people are currently in isolation. He said they are required to isolate for two weeks. In all, 283 people have been identified in Mercer County through contact tracing since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March.

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 time.

So far only one person has been hospitalized in Mercer County as a result of COVID-19 related complications. But that case is no longer considered active and the individual is no longer hospitalized.

Bragg said data on the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ website doesn’t reflect the fact that the individual is no longer hospitalized, and it is still showing that case as active, but it isn’t. The patient has recovered from the virus and is no longer hospitalized.

Bragg said another 68 COVID-19 test results were still pending with the Mercer County Health Department as of Thursday afternoon. Also Thursday, more than 115 people showed up for a COVID-19 testing program at the Bluestone Health Association location on Thorn Street in Princeton.

— Contact Charles Owens at


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