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West Virginia updates list of COVID deaths; delta found in Wetzel County

CHARLESTON — A delta variant infection has been recorded in Wetzel County while two people from the region were among the deaths reported Thursday in a data reconciliation by the Bureau of Public Health, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources said.

Eleven of the 14 deaths reported Thursday are from the data reconciliation with the death certificate, the department said. The deaths occurred from December through July and another two deaths will be included on Friday’s report upon verification, the department said.

A 38-year-old man from Fayette County and a 41-year-old man from Hancock County died since Tuesday’s update, Gov. Jim Justice said. The other death was a 69-year-old man from Berkeley County.

From the reconciliation, the department reported the deaths of a 63-year-old man from Wood County, an 88-year-old man from Jackson County, a 76-year-old man from Fayette County, a 97-year-old man from Lincoln County, an 80-year-old man from McDowell County, a 76-year-old woman from Raleigh County, a 69-year-old man from Marion County, a 78-year-old man from Berkeley County, an 87-year-old woman from Nicholas County, an 81-year-old woman from Monongalia County and an 85-year-old man from Berkeley County.

The new death count is 2,934 residents. Condolences were offered by department Secretary Bill J. Crouch.

“Our hearts go out to these families for their loss,” he said. “West Virginians ages 12 and older can stop the loss of life by scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine.”

The number of cases of the delta mutant strain, the most severe and infectious of the strains, increased 13 cases, from 22 in the Wednesday update to 35 in the Thursday report.

One of the new delta infections is in Wetzel County, the state said. None so far have been found in Wood, Wirt, Tyler, Roane, Ritchie, Pleasants, Jackson, Doddridge or Calhoun counties.

Most of the delta infections are in Berkeley County, 11, followed by six in Monongalia, three in Morgan, two in Hampshire and one each in Braxton, Harrison, Marion, McDowell, Mineral, Raleigh, Webster and Wetzel.

The strain will soon become the predominant variant, Dr. Clay Marsh, coronavirus leader in West Virginia, said.

“We’re still relatively early in appreciating the spread of the delta variant,” Marsh said.

Delta is different from the previous mutations, particularly the amount of germs in a person’s respiratory system, the primary means of spreading the infection, is a thousand times greater, according to Marsh.

“That means this virus is much more contagious,” he said.

People need to get vaccinated, Justice said. The complications from the variant are severe, he said.

“May end really really bad,” Justice said.

The number of active cases in West Virginia is continuing to rise, according to the DHHR. The state reported 1,225 active cases as of Thursday morning, compared to 1,187 on Wednesday and 1,098 on Monday.

Active cases recently dropped below a thousand, the first time in a year while the number peaked on Jan. 10 at 29,257 active infections.

New cases of the virus increased by 126 infections between Wednesday morning and Thursday morning’s update. The daily positivity rate was 2.61 percent.

The state reported 89 people in the hospital from the virus with 38 in an intensive care unit and 17 people on ventilators.

Webster County remains orange, second worst in severity of infection on the County Alert System map., and McDowell County joins Nicholas in the gold category, mid level on the map.

Ten counties are yellow, second lowest in terms of infection: Berkeley, Braxton, Marshall, Wyoming, Hancock, Taylor, Putnam, Cabell, Wayne and Mingo.

All other counties are green, the lowest level, on the map.

Vaccine and vaccination information is available at vaccinate.wv.gov or 1-833-734-0965. Residents 12 and older are eligible for a vaccination and people with at least one shot can register for the Do It for Babydog sweepstakes at doitforbabydog.wv.gov.

Vaccinations without an appointment through the health department will be held 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at the Pavilion in City Park and noon to 4 p.m. today and July 30 at the Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority on Juliana Street in Parkersburg.

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