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Greenbrier County sees COVID-19 cases in local businesses, first death

By Bobby Bordelon

The same week several local businesses in Greenbrier County saw out breaks of COVID-19, the county also saw its first death.

“It is with great regret that we announce our first COVID-19 death,” announced the Greenbrier County Health Department on Saturday, June 28. “We lost an 82 year old male that had a prolonged hospitalization due to complications of the virus. We offer our sincere condolences to his family.”

Cases at local businesses have emerged shortly after the first death and breakout in a Ronceverte church – both the Greenbrier Sporting Club and the Frankfrod Veterinary hospital have a case.

“I do know of the person that tested positive there [at The Greenbrier Sporting Club],” said Governor Jim Justice in his daily press briefing on Wednesday, July 1. “It was someone at the Sporting Club and I think that they were a cook. The protocol is that everyone that they were exposed to, I think about 20 people there and everything, they had to quarantine themselves for 14 days.”

Cam Huffman, director of public relations and content for The Greebrier, confirmed an employee of the Sporting Club Lodge test positive for COVID-19 on June 27.

“At that time, The Greenbrier Sporting Club immediately ceased all dining operations at all of its facilities and began working with state and local health officials on recommended steps,” explained Huffman. “All dining facilities and equipment were sanitized in accordance with CDC guidelines, and all employees identified as having potential exposure were immediately quarantined out of an abundance of caution for 14 days. The Lodge will be closed for dining until July 10.”

Noting that The Greenbrier Sporting Club and The Greenbrier resort are different entities with separate staffs, Huffman confirmed that no one on staff at the resort has tested positive.

The Greenbrier has a dedicated COVID Task Force in place that includes members of the executive team, as well as the resort’s safety officer, director of security, human resources director and others,” Huffman said. “The team meets daily and constantly monitors the resort’s entire COVID safety plan, as well as the changing regulations from health and government officials, and implements policy changes when necessary. The Greenbrier takes procedures for COVID-19 extremely seriously. An extensive list of procedures is available on our website at Greenbrier.com.

Justice expressed faith the resort would handle the positive case well during his press conference.

“I don’t know the protocol and everything that is happening at the resort because I’m not involved, or involved almost zero [percent], but at the same time I can tell that The Greenbrier resort prides itself on doing things right and they will be following every inch of the protocol in every way,” Justice said.

The Frankford Veterinary Hospital also confirmed a staff member who worked a half day on Tuesday, June 23, tested positive. The staff member was in the hospital’s Marlinton office on June 22 and 24.

“We are in the process of testing remaining staff members,” announced the clinic on social media. “This means we are currently very short staffed and only able to see a limited number of appointments and emergencies. So please be kind and work with us.”

Those with appointments should follow guidelines and be patient with the office’s substantially reduced staff.
“We ask that if you do have an appointment you call when you arrive and someone will be out to get your pet,” the hospital said. “We ask that you give a detailed history and then remain in your vehicle until the appointment is over. We will be wearing masks as well. If you would like to reschedule please call the office at 304-497-3409.”

As of Wednesday, July 1, the Greenbrier County Health Department confirmed:
• 67 confirmed cases
• 35 recovered cases
• 31 active cases
• 6 hospitalized
• 1 death

“There’s three main clinics that are doing the testing; one is Robert C. Byrd Clinic, one is Rainelle Medical Center, and the other one is Med Express,” explained Dr. Bridgett Morrison of the Greenbrier County Health Department. “They can always call the Health Department and we can facilitate that as well, but essentially any of those clinics can and are able to test.”

If you think you’ve been exposed, call the Greenbrier County Health Department at 304-645-1787.

Update July 3, 2020: Addition information about The Greenbrier Sporting Club positive case added.