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West Virginia sees slight rise in active COVID cases

CHARLESTON — Active coronavirus cases rose to nearly 1,000 as of Thursday, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

The state reported 998 active cases of the virus, up from 987 on Wednesday and 971 on Tuesday. Active cases had not been below 1,000 since a year ago. The peak was on Jan. 10 when there were 29,257.

The delta variant, more severe and more infectious that previous mutations of the virus, is becoming the predominant strain in the United States and the world, according to Dr. Clay Marsh, COVID-19 leader in West Virginia.

“This is the time for all of us to pay a lot of attention to what is coming,” Marsh said at the Tuesday briefing by Gov. Jim Justice. “The delta variant, which is the variant that initially started in India, is making its way around the country.”

Missouri, which is having problems with the delta variant, is seeing a rapid increase in hospitalizations and admissions into intensive care units, Marsh said.

Press outlets in Missouri this week reported a surge in COVID-19 cases because of low vaccination rates. The average number of new COVID-19 cases in Missouri has exceeded 1,300 a day.

“The majority of their people are now between 20 and 40 years old,” Marsh said. “So this is a different virus.”

One dose of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines is not enough to protect someone from the delta strain, Marsh said. The second shot is needed, with protection kicking in after two weeks, he said.

In West Virginia, health planners looked at how many people who have been totally vaccinated have been re-infected.

“We found that it was only 0.1 percent of people that have been fully vaccinated,” he said. “So we know that this is incredibly effective.”

Nineteen cases of the delta variant had been recorded in West Virginia as of Thursday, two more than the last update on Wednesday.

Six of the 19 cases are in Monongalia County, five are in Berkeley County, two are in Jefferson and one each in Greenbrier, Hampshire, Harrison, Kanawha, Marion and McDowell counties. Local counties have yet to have a delta infection.

Hospitalizations also are slightly up, according to the state. Eighty people are in a hospital, 31 in an intensive care unit and 12 on ventilators.

“This is still significantly less than we had been seeing. But I think it does underscore the reality we are still in,” Marsh said. “We still have a number of people who are highly susceptible to serious disease being unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.”

The department on Thursday also confirmed the death of a 69-year-old man from Preston County.

“We offer our deepest sympathy as both the family and our state grieve another loss due to COVID-19,” DHHR Secretary Bill J. Crouch said. “Let’s continue taking every precaution we can to stop the spread of this disease, including scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination for yourself and all eligible family members.”

The death toll from the virus is 2,917 since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

Active cases in local counties as of Thursday (previous day): Calhoun, 4 (7); Doddridge 5 (5); Gilmer, 3 (3); Jackson, 6 (5); Pleasants, 0 (0); Ritchie, 5 (3); Roane, 5 (7); Tyler, 8 (9); Wirt, 5 (5); Wood, 15 (17.)

Webster County remained the only county in the gold category, midpoint on the County Alert System map for infection and spread. Cabell, Putnam and Morgan remained yellow, second-lowest in terms of infection rates.

All other counties are green, the lowest level.

Vaccination clinics through the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department will be held 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 22 and 29 at the City Park Pavilion in Parkersburg; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays at Spencer Park in Vienna; and noon to 4 p.m. Fridays at the Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority on Juliana Street in Parkersburg.

During the 5K Color Run on Saturday at City Park, a vaccination clinic will be held 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Available will be the single-shot Johnson & Johnson and the two-dose Pfizer vaccines for those aged 12 to 18.

More information about vaccines is available at vaccinate.wv.gov or at 1-833-734-0965. Vaccinated residents can register for the Do it for Babydog vaccine sweepstakes at doitforbabydog.wv.gov for prizes.

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