COVID-19 cases increase by 28 percent in last 2 weeks; 100 more since last Friday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The increased number of positive cases of COVID-19 in West Virginia during the past two weeks has caught the attention of Gov. Jim Justice and coronavirus task force.

Dr. Cathy Slemp

State Health Officer Dr. Cathy Slemp said during Justice’s media briefing Monday positive cases are up by 28 percent over the past 14 days.

“That’s been a shift from what we’ve seen before,” Slemp said. “We starting to change that curve shape.”

According to the state Department of Health and Human Resources COVID-19 website, there were 755 active cases Monday evening compared to 605 active cases on June 8, a 150 case increase. The number of active cases grew by 72 the prior two-week period begriming Memorial Day.

More specially, the number of active cases has increased by 100 since last Friday.

Slemp said the increase in positive cases it’s not just because the state has been conducting more tests. She said the state is seeing community outbreak of COVID-19.

“We’ve seen it in churches and family gatherings and other kinds of things. I think all of these says to us that the disease is really beginning to pick up a little bit and we want to make sure that doesn’t continue and go steeply up,” Slemp said.

The state’s R-naught number, the person-to-person rate of spread number, was above 1 on Monday. It’s been under 1 for several weeks.

At the same time, the state has not seen a rapid increase in hospitalizations or deaths during the past two weeks when cases have increased. There were 21 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday afternoon, five of those patients were in ICU. The state did report the 90th death in the state Monday evening, a 73-year-old man from Mineral County.

Many of the numbers in the past week are connected with out of state vacation travel. Preston County is reporting nearly three dozen cases connected to Myrtle Beach. Other counties with Myrtle Beach cases include Berkeley (12), Cabell (5), Kanawha (3), Raleigh (2) and Taylor (1).

“If I were you I’d consider going somewhere else,” Justice said. “But if you do go please get tested when you come back.”

There’s also been community spread in churches in Greenbrier (41 cases), Ohio County (18 cases) and Boone County (9 cases).

Gov. Jim Justice

Gov. Justice said the overall numbers aren’t “bad, bad” but they have spiked enough to “cause us to pause and to hesitate in every way in what we’re doing.”

Monday marked the beginning of week nine of Justice’s reopening plan.

“That could all change tomorrow,” Justice said. “If we keep pitching numbers that aren’t good we’ll change.”

Justice said there’s not a certain number he’s looking it, instead he said he’ll use the expertise of Slemp and state Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh to help him make the decision on whether to make changes.

“We’re watching the numbers–we don’t have anything bad yet–but West Virginia, just absolutely, come on now, we’ve got to really keep getting after it,” Justice said.

Justice and Marsh continued to urge state residents Monday to wear masks when in public gathering. Slemp said it’s all about what state residents can do together to prevent the spread.

“It is here. We can travel out of state and bring it back and we can get it locally,” she said. “It truly is changing and it’s not just a reflection of the (increase number) tests.”

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