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Camden Clark Medical Center treating COVID-19 patient

PARKERSBURG — The first person in Wood County to test positive for the novel coronavirus is being treated at WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center as health officials work to notify people with whom the individual may have had close personal contact.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources revealed the county’s first positive test Tuesday evening when it updated the latest numbers around the state. On Wednesday, Camden Clark Medical released a statement confirming the individual was being treated at the hospital.

“Our teams have been preparing for the arrival of positive cases for several weeks,” the hospital said. “We are confident in our clinical care teams and are well prepared to manage this situation while ensuring the safety of our patients and staff.”

A hospital representative and spokesperson for the DHHR referred questions about the individual to the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department. The Health Department issued a statement confirming the positive test, but Public Information Officer Carrie Brainard said any other information about the person affected — including how they might have contracted the virus — would be protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 sets rules about who can and cannot access an individual’s health records.

A second release from the Health Department outlined the steps taken after a test comes back positive.

“MOVHD personnel begin contacting persons who may have had close personal contact with this individual; including any friends, family members or health care professionals; to assess, give guidance to and monitor them for signs and symptoms of illness,” it says.

No additional details were available, the release said.

The release said a person generally needs to be in close personal contact with a sick individual to become infected. That includes living in the same household as a person with COVID-19, caring for a person with the virus, being within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for about 10 minutes or being in direct contact with an infected person’s secretions, such as being coughed on, kissing or sharing utensils.

The Health Department said people who have been in contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 should remain at home and monitor their temperature twice a day.

“Report any coughing, wheezing, sneezing or shortness of breath to your health care provider and inform them that you have been exposed to COVID-19,” the earlier release said.

People who get sick with fever, cough or shortness of breath are also advised to stay home and contact their health care provider.

The release also reminded everyone to follow the stay-at-home order issued this week by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice to prevent the spread of the virus.

“If you must go out, use every precaution — social distancing of at least six feet away when standing in line for groceries and takeout, washing hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds and being aware of surfaces that may have germs,” it said.

Confirmation of a positive test did not change any procedures at Camden Clark, as employees were already utilizing “enhanced infection prevention protocols” beforehand, a hospital representative said. Employees are subject to screening, including temperature checks, he said.

“We want to assure everyone that appropriate precautionary measures and safety protocols were and are being taken with (this patient) and those still under investigation to ensure the safety of everyone involved,” the hospital statement said. “Patient and employee safety remains our top priority.”

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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