Outbreak at Leer Mine

TAYLOR COUNTY—With a recent upturn in positive COVID-19 cases for the county, the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department (GTCHD) has reported that a local business, that helps power the nation, had been impacted.

Shawn Thorn, Threat Preparedness Coordinator for the GTCHD, revealed on Wednesday that Arch Coal’s Leer Mining Complex had fallen victim to the virus, as enough employees of the facility had tested positive for COVID-19 to place them in an outbreak classification.

According to GTCHD officials, in a non-residential setting, three or more positive cases would be defined as an outbreak.

By Friday morning, Thorn revealed that nine employees at the mining complex had tested positive for the virus. He noted that contact tracing efforts were underway to ensure that families were properly notified.

“From my knowledge, all of the employees who have tested positive have been above-ground workers, and the mine has reported that they have cleaned the areas that have been affected,” Thorn disclosed. “Mine officials are also holding daily morning briefings with employees.”

As of Friday, it was not known who patient zero was that began the spread of the virus at the complex, and that unfortunately because many of the employees are residents from outside the county, it makes the task more cumbersome.

In addition, Thorn urged any residents who intended to travel to Ohio to use extreme caution, as area residents have tested positive after exposure from the neighboring state.

“It might be a good idea for anyone traveling to Ohio to self-quarantine at home for a few days after returning and then undergo testing, just to be on the safe side,” he expressed. “We remind everyone that we are conducting free daily community testing at our mobile drive-thru site at the First Baptist Church of Grafton, Monday thru Friday from noon to 2:00 p.m., with Flu Shots available upon request.”

With the recent announcement of additional cases, Taylor County now stands at 174 total confirmed cases, with 11 currently active, 155 recovered and 8 fatalities.