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Four test positive after visits to downtown bars

Four people, who all visited three downtown Morgantown bars on the same day, have contracted COVID-19, according to the Monongalia County Health Department.

The health department is conducting disease investigation and contact tracing on the four COVID-19 positive individuals who visited three High Street bars on the evening of  June 24.  

The bars visited by the four individuals — none of whom were wearing masks — are Baby Squirrels Saloon, Big Times and The Back Door. Coincidentally, that is the same day a pre-symptomatic COVID-19 person was at Planet Fitness on Fort Pierpont Road. 

“We do not know where these individuals originally came into contact with COVID-19, but we do know that they spent time in at least three bars, if not more, and two of them are described as being very crowded,”  Lee Smith, MCHD executive director and county health officer, said in a statement. 

All four of the people who visited Baby Squirrels tested positive for COVID-19, which is considered an outbreak, said MaryWade Burnside, the health department’s public information officer. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 include  shortness of breath, fever, dry cough, headaches, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches and loss of smell.

“Anyone who has visited these bars, especially on the evening of Wednesday, June 24, should self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, and if they have any questions, including whether or not they should quarantine, they should call the health department at 304-598-5100,” Smith said.

Zachary Traugh, owner, of Big Times, said he was  in contact with MCHD as soon as he saw the notice. The staff has gotten tested and results should be known today.

“We’re following all of the rules,” said Traugh, who was closed Wednesday. According to a social media post, the bar will not open again until all tests come back negative.

 Walnut Street bar 4th & Goal also reports it is closed as a precautionary measure, via social media.

A MCHD registered sanitarian visited Planet Fitness following the positive COVID-19 test announced by MCHD earlier this week. According to the department, the sanitarian made sure the facility had a sign on the door informing patrons they need to wear a mask. It is estimated 

205 people were at the facility from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the person was at the gym.

“He also did a walk-through, checking out the cleaning stations,” Burnside said in an email. “He went into the men’s locker room, and the facility had the showers taped off and zip ties on the lockers, as per the governor’s guidance. He surveyed the facility to make sure, among other things, that six feet of social distancing was being observed in terms of treadmills and other equipment.”

In addition, the sanitarian went over gym guidance with a manager to ensure they understand capacity is at 40%. Plus, he went over tanning guidelines since Planet Fitness has tanning beds. 

Smith was able to contact Planet Fitness management.

“We’ve been working with their leadership and we’re making notifications to individuals who may have been contacts,” Smith said.

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, there are now 161 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Monongalia County. MCHD said 28 new cases have been reported since June 22 and there have been five deaths, all at Sundale Rehabilitation and Long-Term Care.

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