MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Monongalia County Health Department (MCHD) has released a statement about a recent COVID-19 outbreak involving individuals who visited bars in the area on the evening of June 24.
According to the release, the MCHD is currently conducting disease investigation and contract tracing with individuals who visited several downtown bars.
“We do not know where these individuals originally came into contact with COVID-19, but we do know that they spent time in at least three bars, if not more, and two of which they described as being, ‘very crowded,'” said Dr. Lee B. Smith, MCHD executive director and county health officer.
Officials explained that bars such as Baby Squirrels Saloon, Big Times and The Back Door, which are all located on High Street in downtown Morgantown, were popular on the evening of June 24. Four of the individuals visited Baby Squirrels on Wednesday, and according to the release, three cases constitutes an outbreak.
“Anyone who has visited these bars, especially on the evening of Wednesday, June 24, should self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, and if they have any questions, including about whether or not they should quarantine, they should call the health department at 304-598-5100,” Dr. Smith said.
MCHD officials explained that symptoms of COVID-19 include shortness of breath, fever, dry cough, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches and loss of smell. The release also explained that many states have experienced a rise in cases, and some have been connected to young people going out to crowded places and not necessarily observing the recommended precautions to avoid COVID-19.
According to the release, these precautions include wearing a mask, maintaining a social distance of six feet and washing hands often and thoroughly. Monongalia County has seen an uptick of cases, with 28 new cases being reported since Monday, June 22, according to officials.
“We’re definitely seeing an uptick in cases, and many of them are community spread and involve younger people,” Dr. Smith said.
MCHD officials explained that as of Wednesday morning, Monongalia County had 161 positive cases of COVID-19. One month ago, on June 1, Monongalia County had 122 cases. Cases are also rising around the state, according to the MCHD.
On Wednesday morning, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ daily release reflected 2,932 cases.
“We understand that the weather is nice and people are tired of being cooped up in their homes,” Dr. Smith said. “Young people, especially, want to get out and see their friends. But people need to
understand that we’re going in the wrong direction with these COVID-19 cases and the situation will not improve if precautions aren’t taken.”
MCHD officials emphasized that this is currently Week 10 of Gov. Jim Justice’s reopening plan. Officials in some other states have halted or even reversed reopening measures. The health department stated that it doesn’t want that to happen in Monongalia County.
“We don’t want that to happen here in West Virginia,” Dr. Smith said. “We are doing our best to try to control the number of COVID-19 cases, and we are asking the citizens of Monongalia County to do their part and help us out.”
Anyone with general COVID-19 questions can call the WVU Medicine COVID hotline at 304-598-6000. More information can also be found at MCHD’s COVID-19 website.