10:00am: Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval

Hardy County health official explains possible reasons for red rating

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — While active coronavirus cases in West Virginia increased slightly Wednesday, Hardy County remains the only red county on the state Department of Health and Human Resources coronavirus alert system map.

Hardy County Health Department Administrator Bill Ours pointed to two reasons for the recent increase: the relaxation of statewide coronavirus protocols and elimination of remote instruction at schools.

Gov. Jim Justice announced earlier this month that businesses can allow full capacity as active coronavirus numbers improved. The state Department of Health and Human Resources reported Wednesday an additional 30 active coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 5,206.

“I think that gave people a false sense of security so they are not wearing masks when they go out the way they should and probably not social distancing the way they should,” Ours said.

Ours said school outbreaks are different in the spring compared to the fall as many of the students that test positive are showing symptoms.

“As we open up basketball and wrestling and some things we are seeing some community spread in our schools,” he said. “The amazing part to me is these kids are symptomatic. We knew it was going to happen, but we didn’t know we were going to go red. We knew as we opened our schools and sports back we would see some cases but we are seeing quite a few cases.”

Forty-one percent of Hardy County residents are vaccinated, including many teachers. Ours said many of the current cases are of younger residents who cannot be vaccinated yet.

The rise in cases in schools has also impacted other West Virginia counties; several student and faculty cases were reported earlier this month within Grant County Schools system.

Ours urged everyone to wear facial coverings and practice social distancing even if they have received vaccine doses.

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