Health department reports COVID-19 outbreak at Mingo Central High School

Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 8:39 PM EDT
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MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - It was Sunday evening when Keith Blankenship with the Mingo County Health Department found out an employee at Mingo Central High School had COVID-19.

“We do have a person that was a close contact with the football team,” Blankenship said.

Employees deemed to have been in close contact with the initial case got rapid tests, and the results showed six positive cases from Mingo Central High School.

Blankenship says he expects even more when more tests come back.

As a result of the outbreak, health and school officials shut down the school Tuesday -- with hopes to be back open Wednesday based on recommendations from state health officials and the CDC.

“That will be determined today,” Blankenship said. “Right now, we feel (staff) will be back Wednesday because the school is being cleaned.”

This outbreak comes one week before Mingo County Schools is set to open to students, and the school was occupied by teachers preparing for that reopening.

In the meantime, Blankenship says no athletes have tested positive at this point.

“Contact calling is a slow process, especially when we are looking at greater than 75 contacts at one school system,” Blankenship said.

The West Virginia Education Association wrote a letter to school officials, requesting school start remotely on Sept. 8 in light of the outbreak.

Mingo County is currently in the orange of the state’s color-coded metrics, based on daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people on a seven-day rolling average.

“We are definitely dead center in the orange,” Blankenship said. “Our positivity rate was through the roof yesterday at 4.78 percent.”

If Mingo County is orange Saturday when the map from DHHR refreshes, schools in the county will start remotely next week.

“I am doing my best to take every single phone call and answer every single question,” Blankenship said. “Its very important our number one job is be here for information.”

Blankenship said the county is also seeing outbreaks at a church, nursing home and the Mingo County Board of Education Central Office.

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