W.Va. ends November with higher COVID-19 numbers
CHARLESTON — With West Virginia closing the chapter on November and state officials expressing hope the vaccines can be distributed in December, the state experienced its worst month ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The bottom line is we can’t stop this today,” Gov. Jim Justice said Monday during a COVID-19 briefing at the State Capitol Building. “All we can possibly do is cut this thing off at the pass if we can stop the chain reaction of what is going on.”
According to data from the Department of Health and Human Resources, the number of positive cases over a 14-day period between Nov. 16 and Nov. 29 was 13,341, which was a 43 percent increase compared to 9,314 cases during the prior 14-day period. As of Monday — the most recent data available — the state reported 845 new cases received in a 24-hour period compared to Sunday’s data.
Since Nov. 1, the state reported 22,996 coronavirus cases for the month not counting Monday. That’s 160 percent more cases than October and its 31 days, which saw 8,833 COVID-19 cases. September, which has the same number of days as November, only reported 5,543 cases.
Active COVID-19 cases — the number of infected people in self-quarantine or hospitalized — was 16,787 cases as of Monday — a 23 percent increase from 13,678 active cases seven days ago and a 62 percent increase from 10,377 active cases 14 days ago. All 55 counties have active cases for the sixth week in a row. Active cases have increased in 46 out of 55 counties, down from 49 counties last week.
Justice expressed his frustration and the frustration of the state’s health officials at having to repeat calls for West Virginians to wear masks, stay socially distance, avoid large crowds and gatherings, and wash hands. While Justice thanked the West Virginians that are following the guidelines, he said more need to step up.
“I have no idea why our medical team or myself needs to sit here and plead with everyone to do everything they possibly can within their power to stop the chain reaction until the vaccine gets here,” Justice said. “Do the smart things that we plead with you about each and every day.”
The state reported 735 total COVID-19 deaths as of Monday. There were 147 deaths reported between Nov. 16 and Nov. 29 — a 17.6 percent increase over the 125 deaths reported the previous 14 days. Since the last COVID briefing last Wednesday, 40 more people died.
Monday’s COVID briefing was slightly delayed due to a protest awaiting Justice at the West entrance to the State Capitol Building. The protest was over Justice’s extended mask order and none of the participants were wearing masks.
“Outside of the Capitol right now you’ve got 30 or 40 people … they’re protesting that they don’t want to wear a mask. We’ve had 40 more people die — 735 West Virginians,” Justice said. “The only thing we all know, the only things we can possibly have to be able to slow this thing down right now is that mask. That’s all we got. I don’t understand it, but there are those who have a different opinion.”
The total numbers of test conducted over the same 14-day period was 196,189 — a 38 percent increase in testing compared to 142,203 tests results between Nov. 2. through Nov. 15. Over the last seven days, the state conducted an average of 13,913 tests per day. West Virginia’s daily percent of positive cases was 7.07 percent, and the cumulative percent of positive cases continues to increase, sitting at 3.64 percent.
West Virginia’s Rt number — the rate that shows how quickly the virus is spreading in the community — was 1.03 as of Monday, an improvement from 1.09 last week and 1.12 the week before. The state’s Rt number was the 20th best rate in the nation, up from 23rd best rate last week with 13 other states now in the green for having Rt values lower than 1. Any Rt value below 1 means the growth of the virus is slowing, while numbers above 1 mean the virus is spreading.