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Preston COVID-19 cases continue to climb; community spread confirmed

KINGWOOD — The number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Preston County, fueled by positive test results among people returning from Myrtle Beach, and the Preston County Health Department is now reporting cases of community transmission from the outbreak.

This means people who were exposed to confirmed positives after return from Myrtle Beach have now tested positive for the virus.

As of Monday, the State Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) reported 50 people in the county have tested positive for the virus and another 15 are considered probable. That includes 37 active cases, 24 recovered cases and two deaths.

Preston County went two weeks without a new confirmed positive case, staying at 19, until June 16, when the county health department got word that some Preston High seniors returning from a trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., tested positive.

Since then, a total of 30 cases have been diagnosed in connection with the beach trip. The most recent four were reported Monday.

According to the DHHR’s numbers, the largest number of cases in Preston County, 49.21%, are in the 10- to 19-year-old age group. The next highest percentage of positives is 11.11% in the 40-49-year-old age group.

“This is a critical time in this outbreak … It is vital for individuals that have been told to quarantine by the health depart comply with that order,” the department said in a news release Monday.

Kingwood Mayor Jean Guillot posted a message to the city’s Facebook page after he received complaints that people who allegedly tested positive for COVID-19 had been seen at businesses in town.

The DHHR and county health departments do not release the names of people who are tested.

“Please ensure you are exercising extreme caution if you or someone who you have been in contact with that has been out of the state recently,” Guillot said. “COVID-19 is very easily transmitted, even if you feel no symptoms. If you are showing symptoms or have tested positive for COVID, please listen to state and local health department guidelines and self quarantine for 14 days.”

He also urged consideration for victims of the virus, saying “do not blame or harass any individuals that may be dealing with this virus … Let’s continue to be safe and we will get through this together.”

He asked everyone to “Please be considerate and protect those around you. If travel is needed please wear a mask. I urge all citizens of the city and surrounding areas to take extra precautions when being out in the public.”

The DHHR recommends that anyone who went to the beach or another crowded area self quarantine for 14 days on returning home. Questions and concerns can also be directed to the 24/7, toll-free COVID-19 information hotline: 1-800-887-4304.