West Virginia’s active covid cases went up by 1,037 cases the past few days to a total of 4,010, according to state figures released today.
That means a quarter of the current cases are new, evidence of the surge being fueled by the delta variant of covid-19.
“This is exactly what we’ve been afraid of,” said Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s top covid-19 medical adviser.
Gov. Jim Justice repeatedly said covid-19 could get even worse than it is right now.
“We’re not going to be able to stop this surge that we’re in right now,” the governor said. “Can we individually make ourselves better off? If you get vaccinated today it will ensure you at least to some degree of safety.”
Key numbers in West Virginia are worse than they were a year ago, before a vaccine was widely available.
Total active cases were 4,010 in West Virginia today. There were 1,914 this same date last year.
Covid deaths were 141 this day last year. By now, West Virginia has recorded 2,972 deaths.
Hospitalizations from covid were 123 this date last year. Today the state showed 217 covid-related hospitalizations, although officials said in a briefing today that the actual number has gone up to 269.
This date last year the state recorded 43 covid-19 patients in intensive care units and 17 who needed ventilators. Today, those numbers were 70 in the ICU and 29 needing ventilators.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at this and say ‘What are we doing? What are we doing to ourselves?'” Justice said today.
Three times today, the governor held up a copy of USA Today with a red map of national covid spread and the headline “We are failing one another.”
The governor and his advisers continued urging vaccination, as they have for weeks, but stopped short of suggesting other precautions such as mandated facial coverings, vaccine mandates or closures.
“At this moment, we are not in a position that I believe we need to mandate anything,” Justice said. “I’m not there.”
But he also said, “If we don’t watch this is staring us right in the face.”
Justice noted that all this is happening during the ramp up for school to return. He has said policies on facial coverings for students would be left to local districts.
Generally, Justice said, “We’re going back to school. It’s getting ready to get cold again. It has a chance of getting really bad. Really bad.”
Some institutions are resuming covid-19 precautions.
The Beckley VA Medical Center, for instance, announced it would be reimplementing covid-19 restrictions and screening “out of an abundance of caution.”
Veterans will be screened for covid-19 symptoms before entering the facility. Surgical masks will be required for entry. No visitors will be allowed in the medical center except for a few exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
State officials have pointed to a recent uptick in the vaccination rate. Jim Hoyer, who leads the state’s interagency task force, cited 9,000 vaccinations over this past weekend.
Of West Virginia’s vaccine-eligible population, ages 12 and above, 56.9 percent are now fully-vaccinated, according to state figures.
But Hoyer said the pace of vaccination is still not enough. “We have got to pick up the speed,” Hoyer said.