BELMONT — An elderly Allegany County resident has died of coronavirus, county health officials reported Monday afternoon, as the number of cases rose to nine.
“To protect the family’s privacy, the only information we are releasing is that the person was over 60 years old and had other health conditions that could have compromised their recovery from COVID–19,” said Lori Ballengee, public health director.
The death is the first in the county, which saw its first cases reported March 15.
“I can’t stress strongly enough that this is a community-acquired disease,” Ballengee said. “While we are protecting the public by isolating or quarantining exposed people immediately after we are notified, there are still things you can do.
“We understand people are feeling afraid and powerless right now,” she added. “But you do have the power and control to protect you and your family as much as you can.”
According to Ballengee, community-acquired means the disease is spread by respiratory droplets from infected people and on any surface as long as the virus is alive, so the first priority should be avoiding contact with others, as well as washing hands and sanitizing surfaces often.
While other counties have reported places where patients have traveled, including stores, Ballengee said that identifying a store or business where people may have been doesn’t help, as the virus is potentially everywhere and a list of locations could give a false sense of security that the virus isn’t anywhere else.
Residents are advised to stay home unless they have an essential job, they need to make infrequent trips to grocery stores or pharmacies or to receive medical assistance.
In Allegany County to date, along with the nine confirmed cases of coronavirus — and one death — 46 people are in isolation.
County officials noted that there have been many questions surrounding isolation and quarantine (I&Q).
“Isolation is the term used for containing someone in their home, or a designated area that is ill,” officials said in an update on Monday. “Quarantine is containing a person who is well, but has been exposed to a confirmed case.”
The county health department has quarantined or isolated a total of 153 county residents and 107 of those have been released, which means they have passed the contagious period if quarantined, or passed their symptoms and feeling well for isolated individuals.
The department said it responds immediately upon notification of a positive case to get people and their direct contacts out of the public. These people are checked on every day until they are released.
The department also ensures that any needs they have, such as food and medication, are met so they don’t have to go out of their home for anything.