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Preston health officer urges people to notify health department of beach trips, be smart about testing

KINGWOOD — It is crucial that any Prestonian who has visited Myrtle Beach within the past two weeks contact the Preston County Health Department (PCHD) immediately and not go out in public.

County Health Officer Dr. Fred Conley said Wednesday that four high school seniors who went on a trip to the beach have tested positive for COVID-19. He said there could be more cases and test results are pending.

During his daily coronoavirus briefing, Gov. Jim Justice put the confirmed positive number at seven.

Dr. Conley said PCHD has the names of 18 of the seniors but believes a much larger number was on the trip. He said not all the seniors have returned home.

“It’s critical these individuals call the PCHD immediately and set up a personal monitoring system,” he said.

Once a monitoring system is in place, PCHD will make daily calls to determine if the person has symptoms and needs testing. Early testing before three to 13 days could lead to false negatives.

“This could be catastrophic for the county,” he said. “We need a list of everyone who was there or has been there. We’re dealing in the dark.”

Conley said the symptoms are headache, slightly sore throat, runny nose, cough and body aches. Other symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

“The first case that came in thought they had allergies,” he said. “COVID-19 can mask itself as other diseases.”

Conley said wearing a mask and distancing is even more critical now.

“Wearing a mask is crucial to protect you and others,” he said. “Social distance, wash your hands, don’t touch your face and stay home if you are sick.”

On Wednesday, Health Department Director V.J. Davis said the beach the group visited was Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Parents or seniors can contact the PCHD at 304-329-0096.

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