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Calhoun County schools go remote as virus cases rise

PARKERSBURG — Calhoun County Schools moved to virtual learning this week as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb around most of the region.

Pleasant Hill Elementary School had been on remote learning since Aug. 30, but the status was expanded to the full district on Friday, according to a Facebook post from Superintendent Kelli Whytsell.

From Monday to Tuesday, the number of active cases in Calhoun County increased from 174 to 198 on the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ COVID-19 dashboard. The district started requiring students and staff to wear masks Aug. 26 as the number of positive cases and quarantined students rose.

Doddridge, Jackson, Wirt and Wood counties moved to mask requirements last week as well. Gilmer County Schools recently enacted a mask mandate through Sept. 30 at the request of the county Health Department.

“After the 30th, it’ll be reviewed again,” Superintendent Patricia Lowther said.

Masks are also required in Pleasants, Ritchie and Tyler counties, as well as Wetzel County, when it’s in the red category on the state’s County Alert System map.

Red represents the highest level of spread based on the percentage of tests that come back positive and new cases per 100,000 people in a one- or two-week period.

Locally, only Gilmer and Roane (orange, second-highest) and Pleasants (gold, the middle level) counties were not red on Tuesday’s map. Statewide there were 39 red counties, 14 orange, one gold and one yellow (Tucker), the second-lowest category.

Active cases in local counties as of Tuesday (previous day) were: Calhoun, 198 (174); Doddridge, 98 (97); Gilmer, 57 (52); Jackson, 228 (239); Pleasants, 112 (109); Ritchie, 128 (116); Roane, 146 (148); Tyler, 204 (198); Wetzel, 310 (323); Wirt, 83 (78); and Wood, 1,068 (1,057).

The DHHR reported 1,008 new cases in Tuesday’s update, pushing the state beyond 200,000 since the start of the pandemic in the spring of 2020. There were 21,752 active cases, with 14.55 percnt of tests coming back positive.

Three deaths were reported: a 65-year-old Harrison County man, a 44-year-old Logan County man and a 66-year-old Kanawha County woman.

“Every life lost to this pandemic is a tragedy, and our thoughts go out to the families,” DHHR Cabinet Secretary Bill J. Crouch said. “Please protect yourself and your family by getting vaccinated.”

The rise in cases has been largely attributed to the more-contagious delta variant, with “breakthrough” infections of vaccinated individuals occurring.

West Virginia has reported 6,608 breakthrough cases, with 0.72 percent of fully vaccinated individuals developing COVID, according to the dashboard data. There have been 85 breakthrough deaths, representing 0.009 percent of vaccinated individuals.

COVID testing sites can be found online at dhhr.wv.gov/COVID-19/pages/testing.aspx, while vaccine clinic information is available at vaccinate.wv.gov.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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