Fayette County's first two COVID-19 deaths reported

Fayette County's first two deaths due to COVID-19 complications were reported on Saturday, May 16.The man died at Montgomery General Hospital, and the woman died at CAMC, according to Teri Harlan, administrator of the Fayette County Health Department. In some capacity, both deaths were connected to confirmed cases at Montgomery General. Harlan declined to release their towns of residence. (Steve Keenan/The Fayette Tribune)

Fayette County's first two deaths due to COVID-19 complications were reported on Saturday, May 16.

In its evening update on Saturday, a West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources press release confirmed the death of an 89-year-old Fayette County man.

A subsequent press release from the Fayette County Health Department confirmed that death and also the passing of an 85-year-old Fayette County woman from COVID-19. Both individuals passed away on Saturday.

The man died at Montgomery General Hospital, and the woman died at CAMC, according to Teri Harlan, administrator of the Fayette County Health Department. In some capacity, both deaths were connected to confirmed cases at Montgomery General. Harlan declined to release their towns of residence.

"I extend our deepest sympathies to the loved ones during this time of loss," Dr. Anita Stewart, Fayette County health officer, said in the release. "The friends and families are in our thoughts and our prayers.”

Fayette County is currently at 38 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 16 of those recovered and two reported deaths.

"As of yesterday, we had zero deaths reported due to COVID-19 and today we have two," said Harlan. "These deaths should remind us of just how important it is to continue working to protect one another during this pandemic."

The health department continues to investigate all cases, Harlan said. All confirmed cases will be isolated and close contacts are quarantined. The health department asks that the community continue to practice physical distancing and wear a face covering when you are around others. If you have questions or feel the need to be tested, contact your primary care provider or the FCHD at 304-574-1617.

Harlan said COVID-19 testing will continue next week in Fayette County. On Tuesday, May 19, drive-through testing will occur from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the J.W. and Hazel Ruby West Virginia Welcome Center in Mount Hope. On Wednesday, May 20, testing will be conducted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Midland Trail High School in cooperation with Rainelle Medical Center.

Along the testing front, Harlan reported that all 183 COVID-19 tests logged on Wednesday in Smithers by the Fayette County COVID-19 Task Force in partnership with Smithers Mayor Dr. Anne Cavalier and Montgomery Mayor Greg Ingram have been tabulated, with just one positive case reported.

And, earlier this week, the FCHD tested employees and residents at two assisted living facilities — Kyle's Place and Gauley River Assisted Living — and no positive cases were discovered at either location. Testing at Oak Hill Place, another assisted living facility, is planned for Monday, May 18.

Fayette's two most recent confirmed COVID-19 cases were connected to cases already confirmed at Montgomery General Hospital, Harlan had said earlier Saturday.

Also, as part of Gov. Jim Justice's initiative to increase testing opportunities for minorities and other vulnerable populations, the governor's office, DHHR, the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs and the WV National Guard offered free testing in medically underserved counties on Friday, May 15, and Saturday, May 16. Totals for the two-day testing were as follows: 872 tested in Berkeley County, 748 in Jefferson County, 364 in Mercer County, and 404 in Raleigh County.

Additional testing will be held for Cabell, Kanawha, Marion and Monongalia counties on May 22-23 and Fayette, Kanawha and Mineral counties on May 29-30. Visit https://dhhr.wv.gov/News/2020/Pages/Testing-Opportunities-for-Minorities-and-Other-Vulnerable-Populations.aspx to learn more.

Email: skeenan@register-herald.com or follow on Twitter @gb_scribe

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