TAZEWELL, Va. — The Virginia Department of Health reported on Friday that Tazewell County has two new COVID-related deaths, bringing the total to six, as the number of positive cases continues to close in on the 1,000 mark

As of Friday, Tazewell County has seen a total of 878 cases, five new COVID hospitalizations and the six deaths.

Virginia releases no details about deaths other than the number in each county.

Mercer and Monroe counties also saw more deaths this week: One in Mercer County to raise the COVID death toll to 38, and two in Monroe County, bringing its total to 10 since the pandemic began.

All area counties continue to see spikes in new cases.

Mercer County’s total was 1,276 on Friday, reflecting 33 new cases in the previous 24 hours, with 414 still active. Monroe County’s count stood at 298 total confirmed cases with 26 probable and 36 active.

McDowell County saw a sharp rise this week, but most of that was attributable to an outbreak at Stevens Correctional Facility in Welch.

Shannon Hardee, nursing director with the McDowell County Health Department, said 221 new cases were added from the prison outbreak.

“The state (Department of Health and Human Resources) dashboard reports inmates still as one,” she said, referring to congregate settings and statistics reflected on the County Alert System. “However, we have to report them out as individuals in our county and work them up in our reportable database as individuals.”

Hardee said another 33 new cases were also reported Thursday and Friday, but they are attributable to community spread. Eleven are hospitalized with two on a ventilator.

The county, as of Friday, had a total of 569 positives with 360 active cases, she said, including the inmates.

Gov. Jim Justice reported earlier this week 260 inmates tested positive at Stevens Correctional Center and 38 staff.

During his Friday pandemic briefing, he said 40 inmates and 18 staff members are now listed as recovered.

Numbers also continue to rise in other nearby Virginia counties.

As of Friday, Buchanan County had 359 total cases with 19 hospitalized and five deaths; Bland County had seen 113 cases with four hospitalized and five deaths; Giles County has had 223 cases with eight hospitalizations and zero deaths.

— Contact Charles Boothe at 

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