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Health officials fear Mercer County nears ‘Coronavirus surge’

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MERCER COUNTY (WVVA) -- Mercer County has seen 26 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

According to the Mercer County Health Department, more than half of those are travel related - with 10 cases connected to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina - an area state officials have been warning travelers about for weeks.

"We continue to have the issues with outbreaks coming from the Myrtle Beach area," Governor Jim Justice said during a Monday press briefing. "We surely encourage anyone that's been at Myrtle Beach to be tested. It's the only way we can make things better, and better protect all of us."

However, cases of community transmission are currently more concerning to Mercer County public health officials.

"We have three cases now that are not related to travel and are not related to contact," said Public Health Officer Kathy Wides. "So that means that three citizens of Mercer County picked up the COVID virus just by being out and about, running errands, doing whatever - in Mercer County. They just picked it up in the community, and that is extraordinarily concerning for me."

Wides says health officials fear that increase in travel for the holiday weekend could expand the surge.

"What we're seeing now is related to travel, most of it," she said. "But it's gotten it into the community, - so now you can just go run for milk, run into somebody in line - and be sick within two weeks."

As a result, officials at the Health Department are now encouraging residents to avoid traveling and follow CDC guidelines.

"I would recommend that people stay at home and celebrate with a small group of friends and family," Wides said. "The bigger the crowd you expose yourself to, the bigger the risk you expose yourself to."

Of Mercer County's 39 positive cases, 14 patients have recovered. 25 people remain on isolation.

The Mercer County Health Department is planning widespread community testing within the next two weeks. Stick with WVVA for those dates and times.

Jade Burks

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