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Active COVID-19 cases near 2,600 as delta variant spreads; sweepstakes registration extended

From staff reports

CHARLESTON — Active cases of COVID-19 are nearing 2,600 in West Virginia while the state has extended the registration deadline for the vaccine sweepstakes.

The Department of Health and Human Resources on Tuesday reported 2,585 active cases, the highest since mid-June. Cases have more than tripled since July 9 when they totaled 882, the year’s low.

Active cases in Wood County as of Tuesday totaled 84, nearly five times the number of active cases on July 7 when there were 17, according to DHHR statistics. Active cases as of Tuesday in other counties (previous day): Wirt, 8 (8); Wetzel, 42 (42); Tyler, 17 (16); Roane, 5 (5); Ritchie, 11 (11); Pleasants, 5 (7); Jackson, 29 (28); Gilmer, 8 (7); Doddridge, 5 (6); Calhoun, 2 (2).

Active cases of the more-contagious delta variant have increased to 118 in the state and have been detected in 31 counties. State officials have said the variant is becoming the predominant infection in West Virginia, mostly in unvaccinated residents.

Ten cases of the delta mutation have been found in local counties with two in Wood, Gilmer and Jackson counties and four in Wetzel County.

Most of the delta cases are in Berkeley County where 24 have been detected so far, followed by 17 in Monongalia County, seven in Morgan and five in Webster.

Also reported on Tuesday were five deaths since the last update on Monday morning, the youngest being a 57-year-old man from Kanawha County. The deaths include an 82-year-old man from Wayne County, a 78-year-old woman from Wayne County, a 78-year-old man from Monongalia County and a 68-year-old man from Berkeley County.

“We extend our sincere sympathy to these families,” department Secretary Bill J. Crouch said. “Vaccines save lives, and I urge you to choose the COVID vaccine for yourself and for your children 12 and older.”

Hospitalizations are at 178 with 64 in an intensive care unit and 25 patients on ventilators.

Wood, Wirt, Ritchie and Gilmer are yellow on the County Alert System, the second level from the bottom in terms of infection rate and percent positivity. Wetzel, Tyler and Jackson are gold, mid-level. Pleasants, Doddridge, Calhoun and Roane are green, least severe on the map.

Marshall is the only county at the highest red level. Six counties are orange.

A free vaccination clinic will be held 3-6 p.m. Friday at Gabe’s in Parkersburg and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Back to School and Safety Fair at the Grand Central Mall.

On Monday, about 1,900 shots were administered in West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice said. Another 7,500 shots were administered over the weekend, an increase of about 85% over the previous weekend total of 4,070, he said.

Justice on Tuesday also extended the Do it for Babydog vaccination sweepstakes deadline for registration to Sunday. The change allows residents more time to get a vaccination and register for the prizes in the final round, which include $1.588 million, a second-place prize of $588,000, two college scholarships, two new trucks, lifetime hunting and fishing licenses, hunting rifles and shotguns and weekend getaways to West Virginia State Parks

Winners will be announced Tuesday.

“This final crop of prizes are going to be the best we’ve ever had,” Justice said.

Previously, registration was to expire on Monday, but due to a system problem registration for the college scholarship prize closed early. Corrections have been made, but rather than reopening registration for one prize, the registration deadline was extended for the entire program, Justice said.

The demand for COVID-19 vaccines have increased because of the threat of the more-contagious delta variant.

“Over the past few days, we’ve seen real movement in the number of people choosing to finally get their shot and the last thing we want to do is interrupt our momentum by ending the sweepstakes too early,” Justice said.

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