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Mingo County Health Department Administrator Keith Blankenship speaks at the Mingo County Commission meeting Wednesday, June 2.

WILLIAMSON — The Mingo County Health Department provided updates and guidance for the ongoing mask mandate during the County Commission meeting June 2.

Mingo County Health Department Administrator Keith Blankenship said Mingo averages 50 new cases of coronavirus a week.

Blankenship said a fully vaccinated Mingo County resident had recently died due to complications from COVID-19.

“We’ve had more than a dozen what is called break-out case,” Blankenship said. “Which means someone who has been fully vaccinated and got COVID. Those typically are mild.”

Blankenship said in regard to the county’s mask mandate previously passed, that he recommended continuing to follow the directives of Gov. Jim Justice.

The Statewide Indoor Face Covering Requirement is still in effect for all West Virginians who are not yet fully vaccinated, and will remain in effect for these individuals until June 20.

Blankenship said another growing concern in the area is hepatitis. He said they provide rapid testing that can later be confirmed after a referral.

The county’s Quick Response Team (QRT) has been able to get more information out, leading to individuals seeking assistance for recovery. He said in the month of May, they took 14 people to recovery programs. He said while this is only a drop in the bucket, it is still a step in the right direction.

“We’ve got people literally walking into the health department to say, ‘I hear you can help me, I want to get into recovery,’ ” Blankenship said. “Fourteen is a such a small number compared to how many we have out there.”

The QRT program assists individuals who have experienced an overdose with recovery support, social service referrals and links to treatment options through multi-disciplinary teams composed of a first responder, a Peer Recovery Support Specialist, a public health person and a member of the faith-based community.

Funding for the program in Mingo was first provided in 2020 by the Violence and Injury Prevention Program administered by the West Virginia DHHR’s Office of Maternal Child and Family Health through the Disease Control and Prevention Overdose Data to Action Collaborative Agreement.

The QRT in Mingo also recently launched a mobile unit to take healthcare services to the community.

“You’ve done a good job making yourselves available out there, Keith,” Commissioner Diann Hannah said. “I’ve saw you out. People have had an opportunity to get other services from the Health Department that they never realized that you did.”

Blankenship said he and his staff are continuing work on needed programs for Mingo County residents, as well as make them accessible.

Reporter Nancy Peyton can be reached at npeyton@hdmediallc.com or 304-824-5101.

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