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Law enforcement issuing quarantine orders as health department issues stark warning

The Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department said Friday they are enlisting help from local law enforcement and the West Virginia National Guard due to an rapid increase in COVID-19 cases recently.

“As you can see by our numbers, we continue to see an increase in active cases,” the health department wrote on social media shortly after announcing that there are now 83 active cases locally. “Our office will have limited hours, on a daily basis, depending on the number of cases we have and the number of contacts each case has. We will be receiving assistance from the West Virginia National Guard, beginning on Monday.”

The number of cases stands in stark contrast to a year ago, when just a single COVID-19 case was active in Upshur County. Although free vaccines have been widely available for months, West Virginia has one of the lowest rates of vaccination in the nation. In Upshur County, just 37% of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to the DHHR.

The health department lambasted individuals who are refusing to quarantine, saying local law enforcement is now issuing quarantine orders and anyone in violation can be charged with a crime.

“The plain facts are, if you are positive for COVID-19, stay in quarantine. You are not helping anyone by going to Dollar Tree, Walmart, Go Mart, Kroger and other places; instead you are being a person with no care or concern for others and making many sick, some who can not tolerate this illness,” the health department wrote. “We have had to resort to law enforcement to issue quarantine orders … You can be charged with a misdemeanor for not remaining in quarantine, as you are spreading an infectious disease.”

Two Upshur County residents have died in recent days, putting the total death count at 37. The county currently has the third-highest infection rate in West Virginia.

The health department advised residents to cooperate when contacted regarding a potential exposure.

“If you are a positive case or a direct contact, you may be receiving a call from a male; he is working with us for an unspecified length of time,” the department wrote. “We also ask that you are compliant with our questions — we need to notify those that have been exposed. We do not give your name. We have to stop the spread, before it gets totally out of control. It’s heading in that direction quickly.”

The health department noted that area hospitals are already starting to fill up.

“We know hospital beds were not available in some areas of our region a couple of days ago,” the post reads. “What are we going to do if we continue at this rate? … How old are your parents, grandparents, children? Are they considered high risk? What is it going to take?”

The health department post ends with a plea to work together to stop the spread of the virus.

“Upshur County, we need to unite, care for our loved ones, have concern for our neighbors, do you part. We can be positive and stop this dreaded virus, it takes all of us, to be proactive, remain positive and not react negatively. Be one of the leaders — set a positive example.”

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