State sees deadliest week since April for COVID-19 deaths

Gov. Jim Justice gestures during his coronavirus briefing Friday in Charleston. The state had its most deaths this week since April. -- Photo Courtesy/WV Governor's Office

CHARLESTON — West Virginia ended the week with the most COVID-19 deaths since the middle of April, along with record numbers of new cases and hospitalizations.

According to the Department of Health and Human Resources, as of Friday 13 people have died in the last week from infections of the novel coronavirus. One of those deaths, a 49-year-old woman from Ohio County, makes the second death of a person between the ages of 40 and 49 since the state started tracking coronavirus deaths.

“I just read off five beautiful West Virginians that we’ve lost,” Justice said. “Life is too precious for me to sit here and read about West Virginians we’ve lost. Don’t let your guard down, West Virginia.”

On Thursday, the state reported 182 COVID-19 infections, the largest number of daily cases since July 10 when 173 positive cases were reported. The state also received 6,183 test results Thursday, which was the largest single day for test results since April 25 when the state received 5,889 tests.

“It is a record high, but we are testing record numbers,” Justice said. “West Virginia, you’ve got to listen. You can’t ease off. You’ve got to wear your mask. You absolutely have to protect the elderly. You’ve got to absolutely use all the tools in the toolbox to stay socially distanced and on your game.”

The amount of new positive cases and test results Thursday brought the state’s daily percentage of positive cases down to 2.94 percent. The cumulative percent of positive cases was 2.34 percent, remaining below the 3 percent level being used to decide whether to pause or scale back reopening plans. As of Friday, there are 1,712 active cases of COVID-19 in the state, consisting of people in quarantine and those hospitalized for severe symptoms.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 broke 100 for the first time Thursday, with 102 people hospitalized. Of that number, 40 patients are in intensive care and 19 are on ventilators. State officials said they’re closely watching hospitalization numbers, but there is no risk of cases overtopping hospital capacity.

“That’s moving about 10 percent per day,” Justice said. “We’re still not capacity in our hospitals, but it’s still not good.”

The Rt number, the rate of reproduction for the virus, has decreased to a rate of 0.97, meaning the average number of people who can be infected is decreasing. The Rt number peaked at 1.26 on June 14 and at one point was nearly the highest of all 50 states.

“We’ve gone from red to green on that assessment tool,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, the state coronavirus czar. “That gives us some encouraging hope for a reduction in the future in some of these cases.”

(Adams can be contacted at sadams@newsandsentinel.com)


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