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The Mingo County Courthouse is pictured in downtown Williamson.

WILLIAMSON — The Mingo County Commission voted to reinstate COVID-19 mitigation protocols at the courthouse due to a rise in cases across the county.

This vote came after the commission spent more than an hour discussing coronavirus data for the county at its meeting Sept. 1.

“Our infection rate is what’s getting nerve-wracking,” said Keith Blankenship of the Mingo County Health Department. “We’re at 92 cases per day based on a population of 100,000 people, which means we’re averaging about 26 to 27 cases a day.”

Blankenship said cases are on the rise again and could potentially become record-breaking across the county and state.

“In January, we reached a peak of around 450 active cases of COVID in Mingo County, but it took four months to reach that number,” Blankenship said. “In August, we almost reached 400 active cases in only four weeks.”

Blankenship said he worries this spread will become worse with school starting in the county, and noted that Mingo Central High School was already listed on the West Virginia Department of Education website as having an active outbreak before students had even returned to the classroom. The site noted that this outbreak was from extracurricular activities.

Commission President Thomas Taylor, who recovered from the coronavirus, said steps need to be taken to slow the spread — especially with the danger from variants.

The renewed policy includes temperature checks at the front door, a recommendation to wear masks and locking the front doors to control how many people come into the building at a time. The full guidance is as follows:

  • Front doors will be locked to control access to said buildings
  • Court marshals shall provide a mask to members of the public requesting entrance to the building(s) who do not have a mask or face covering, as long as the same are available.
  • Limit of no more than two (2) members of the public per office. If public can’t wear a mask, only one person at a time can enter. That individual shall be escorted to the particular office and back.
  • Court marshals shall continue to ask COVID-19 screening questions, as outlined herein. Court marshals are to take temperature as public requests entrance to building and if temperature is 100+, have individual sit down for five (5) minutes, re-take, if still 100+ access to building will be denied and they will be encouraged to contact their health care provider.
  • Hand sanitizer may be used by public and employees while conducting business. Offices may ask a person to use hand sanitizer again in the office prior to touching any documents, etc.

The guidelines apply both to the main courthouse and to the annex.

As on Monday, Mingo County currently reports 475 active COVID-19 cases. The county is still in the red on the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ COVID-19 dashboard. The positivity rate was 16.54% with an infection rate of 118.32 per 100K.

Mingo County has 6,962 individuals vaccinated with at least one dose, and 5,800 fully vaccinated individuals representing 29.7% and 24.8% of the county’s population — the lowest rate among counties in West Virginia.

On Monday, Pike County, Kentucky, reported a positivity rate of 18.65% with an infection rate of 126.9 per 100K.

Mingo residents can access immediate updates coupled with free vaccination opportunities and COVID-19 testing locations in the county by checking the Mingo County Health Department Facebook page or by calling 304-235-3570.

HD Media reporter Nancy Peyton primarily covers news in Lincoln County.

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