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MCHD, WVU respond to virus outbreak; contract tracing in process

West Virginia University said it is working with the Monongalia County Health Department to track down at least a dozen WVU students who tested positive for COVID-19.

“MCHD is in the process of tracking all of them down, and we’re assisting in that effort and where we’re needed,” said John Bolt, a university spokesman. “If we do find that they have been on campus, WVU teams from Facilities and Environmental Health & Safety Services will thoroughly clean the facility, and the campus community will be advised and asked to avoid the area.”

Bolt did not offer any additional information and the county health department declined comment on the ongoing investigation.

WVU’s Morgantown campus has been closed since March 20, with few exceptions such as keeping a portion of some dorm space open for students not able to return home. The school has also switched to online classes for the summer and moved its May 16 commencement online.

In a release, the county health department said it is believed the students returned to private, off-campus housing.

“The most important thing we can do at this time as a community is social distance,” Dr. Lee B. Smith, MCHD executive director and county health officer, said in a news release. “Leave your home only for essential needs, and when you do, take the proper precautions by wearing a mask and staying six feet apart from others.”

As of Thursday afternoon, Monongalia County had 74 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, the most in the state. Berkley County had 73 confirmed cases and Kanawha County had 70 confirmed cases. West Virginia, as a whole, has 485 cases out of 12,934 tests reported to the state for an infection ratio of 3.74%.

West Virginia is under a state-wide, stay-at-home order and all non-essential travel is prohibited.

“When the order is lifted and public health officials have determined it is safe for students to return to campus to finalize their move out of their residence hall space, information will be sent to students via their MIX email account, posted on the Housing website and WVU social media channels. If any have particular concerns, they can contact us at,” according to WVU.

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