West Virginia reports 3rd coronavirus death

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A nursing home patient with underlying health conditions became the third person to die from the new coronavirus in West Virginia, health officials said Sunday.

The Department of Health and Human Resources said the 76-year-old man was a resident of the Sundale nursing home in Morgantown, where 21 residents and eight staff members tested positive for the virus.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has tightened restrictions on people in Monongalia County and five other counties in the state to try to curb coronavirus hotspots. Three of those counties are in the eastern panhandle.

Statewide totals Saturday showed 54 positive cases in Berkeley County, 51 in Kanawha, 49 in Monongalia, 24 in Harrison, 21 in Jefferson and three in Morgan.

Justice directed all businesses in the six counties, including those deemed essential under his statewide stay-at-home order, to require employees to work from home or remotely to the maximum extent possible.

The order also tells local health departments to establish the maximum occupancy and proper social distance for essential businesses and enforce them. Additionally, it directs the West Virginia State Police to help enforce county orders and the National Guard to provide logistical support and services to help county agencies.

The state's two other deaths involved an 88-year-old woman from Marion County and a Jackson County resident with several underlying health issues.

A hearing is scheduled in federal court on a bid by lawyers to have several convicted felons released from prison due to the virus. The move is opposed by the state Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, law enforcement groups and emergency responders.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said in a statement that any such inmate release would “prove to be very dangerous to the public.”

A corrections news release said Mountain State Justice requested Monday's hearing. It represents a group of inmates that includes several convicted of sexual and other violent crimes. The statement said the group is suing over medical services and conditions in West Virginia's regional jails.

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