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COVID-19 cases, testing and hospitalizations up statewide

CHARLESTON — In what has become a weekly plea, Gov. Jim Justice and state health officials stressed Monday the need to continue mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand washing to control the spread of COVID-19.

“The absolute power we have right now, right at this moment, to stop this thing or prevent this thing is wearing a mask and doing all the preventative things that we’re telling you to do. There’s no question about that,” Justice said Monday during his coronavirus briefing at the State Capitol Building.

According to data from the Department of Health and Human Resources, the total numbers of test results between Oct. 12 and Oct. 25 was 98,596, which was a 16 percent increase in testing compared to 84,941 tests results between Sept. 28. through Oct. 11.

The state broke another record for test results Sunday with 13,097 results reported to DHHR.

West Virginia’s daily percent of positive cases was 1.28 percent due to the significant number of test results received by DHHR Sunday. But the cumulative percent of positive cases continues to increase, sitting at 2.85 percent.

“Our cumulative number is still higher than where we want it to be,” Justice said. “We could very well still be the envy of the nation, but at the same time in West Virginia we want to be the envy plus something, and the plus something is we need to get that number better.”

The number of positive cases over the last 14 days 3,943, which was a 44 percent increase in positive cases from the previous 14 days. As of Monday — the most recent data available — the state reported 317 new cases in a 24-hour period.

Active COVID-19 cases — the number of infected people in self-quarantine or hospitalized — was 5,031 as of Monday — a 1.3-percent decrease from 5,095 active cases seven days ago, but a 9.9-percent increase from 4,578 active cases 14 days ago. The state saw active cases decreasing over several days last week, but the numbers are going up again.

All 55 counties have active cases for the second week in a row. Active cases have increased in 34 counties, down from 37 counties last week. Cases in 19 counties have decreased, up from 16 counties last week. Active cases continue to fall in the state’s two largest counties: Kanawha and Monongalia counties. Two counties have seen no changes in case numbers.

The state reported 424 total COVID-19 deaths as of Monday. Deaths numbers were flat over a 14-day period. There were 41 deaths reported between Oct. 12 and Oct. 25 and 48 deaths reported between Sept. 28 through Oct. 11. The most recent death was a 87-year-old woman from Marshall County.

Hospitalizations are at an all-time high. There were 215 hospitalizations as of Monday — a 22-percent increase from seven days ago. The average number of hospitalizations between Oct. 12 and Oct. 25 increased by 12 percent over the average number of hospitalizations the previous 14 days. The number of infected people in intensive care units was 71 — down from a peak of 75 on Saturday — and 23 people are on ventilators.

Dr. Clay Marsh, the state coronavirus czar, said that West Virginia’s hospitals still have capacity to handle COVID-19 cases. However, Marsh pointed to Utah and El Paso, Texas, as examples of health systems struggling to handle the surge of hospitalizations.

“We’re trying to reduce the spread of COVID-19 so we can reduce the surge that can happen to overwhelm the health system,” Marsh said. “For us, although we still have plenty of capacity on the COVID-side, we’re seeing more hospitalizations than we’ve seen since before the COVID pandemic started. With that … we’re seeing more people go into the hospital with COVID, and that is consistent after two weeks of seeing more cases.”

West Virginia’s Rt number — the rate that shows how quickly the virus is spreading in the community — was 1.08 as of Monday.

The state’s Rt number was the 19th best rate in the nation, though all states except Mississippi were in the red for having Rt numbers higher than 1. Any Rt value below 1 means the growth of the virus is slowing, while numbers above 1 mean the virus is spreading.

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

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