Active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 in West Virginia; Health departments pushed to limits

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia has for the first time exceeded 10,000 active cases of COVID-19.

Numbers released Monday morning by the state Department of Health and Human Resources put active cases at 10,377 after an additional 801 confirmed cases. The state’s daily positivity test rate has increased to 5.31%. The overall test since the pandemic began has climbed to 3.27%.

Monongalia County Health Department Medical Officer Dr. Lee Smith said the increasing numbers are not a good sign with flu season approaching.

“This is a bad omen for where we are,” Smith said during an appearance Monday on MetroNews “Talkline.”

Gov. Jim Justice issued a beefed up mask mandate last Friday that requires facial coverings to be worn in all public buildings regardless of social distancing.

The DHHR reported three additional deaths Monday bringing the pandemic total to 585. The deaths were those of an 83-year old male from Kanawha County, an 80-year old female from Kanawha County, and an 80-year old female from Jefferson County. There have been 35 deaths in the past week.

“Right now the greatest number of outbreaks that we’re seeing other then scattered background stuff are social gatherings.” Smith said. “Unfortunately, weddings seem to be a huge factor right now.”

Statistics show up to 45% of all infections are passed by people who are asymptomatic. For some people symptoms can be so mild they may not even know they are transmitting the virus, making local testing opportunities very important.

“It can be ‘Well I thought it was allergies. It was just some sinus drainage or a tickle in the back of my throat or headaches,'” Smith said. “They fail to connect the dots that these my be symptoms of COVID and take the appropriate precautions.”

Data from the DHHR said last Saturday was the single largest day gain of case with 1,153 over a 24-hour period. The daily infection rate jumped to 6.38%

“We need to slow the spread of this disease,” Dr. Smith said,” If we did a better job of focusing the testing on the symptomatic and those named as contacts. whether we got bigger numbers- that’s a different question.”

Hospitalizations continue to set daily records. The number rose to 383 Monday with 108 people in intensive care and 41 patients on ventilators.

Jackson, Barbour, Mineral and Marshall counties were “red” on Monday’s COVID-19 daily alert map while 33 other counties had at least one “red” category metric.

“The numbers at this point are astronomical for Mineral County,” Mineral County Health Department Administrator A.J. Root said Monday on the show Potomac Highlands Today. “Where we used to think eight to 10 cases were a pretty interesting day around here, we’re seeing 30, 40, 50 and we even went over 71 on a day.”

Root said there’s a tremendous stress on the system.

“And when you add in we’ve been testing for basically the last two weeks, every day, it’s definitely wearing us thin at this point,” Root said.

Root said the community needs to refocus.

“We’re trying to notify the public the best as we can but it’s rapid fire with the cases coming in and trying to connect the dots at some point,” he said.

Overall confirmed cases per county include: Barbour (264), Berkeley (2,259), Boone (509), Braxton (95), Brooke (386), Cabell (2,192), Calhoun (44), Clay (94), Doddridge (88), Fayette (959), Gilmer (175), Grant (242), Greenbrier (319), Hampshire (207), Hancock (380), Hardy (157), Harrison (878), Jackson (559), Jefferson (978), Kanawha (4,723), Lewis (197), Lincoln (348), Logan (921), Marion (607), Marshall (806), Mason (254), McDowell (421), Mercer (1,062), Mineral (623), Mingo (834), Monongalia (2,786), Monroe (293), Morgan (210), Nicholas (261), Ohio (1,045), Pendleton (86), Pleasants (57), Pocahontas (81), Preston (350), Putnam (1,402), Raleigh (1,132), Randolph (556), Ritchie (96), Roane (136), Summers (219), Taylor (221), Tucker (77), Tyler (107), Upshur (361), Wayne (809), Webster (47), Wetzel (322), Wirt (66), Wood (1,635), Wyoming (524).

Reporter Mike Nolting contributed to this story.

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