We may be rounding the corner on Covid-19 in West Virginia… again.
The latest figures from the state Department of Health and Human Resources show the number of active cases in the state has fallen from nearly 30,000 last Thursday to just over 17,000 on Monday.
“Plus or minus a couple of days, we are probably at, for this surge, a peak number of cases,” said Gen. Jim Hoyer, head of the state’s Interagency Covid-19 Task Force.
If so, that would be a relief. The number of cases due to the Delta variant has been building for weeks, sending more people to the hospital, putting a strain on health care providers and interrupting schools and public events.
However, officials warn it make take several weeks for the slowdown in active cases to be reflected in hospitalizations. Nine-hundred and fifty-four people were in West Virginia hospitals with Covid as of yesterday, the same as the day before, which was a previous high for the pandemic.
“The bad news is, what we know from the last surge in West Virginia, as well as nationally, you have about a two-to four-week point after that where hospitalizations and deaths go to their peak,” Hoyer said. “So, we’ve got a lot of challenges ahead for our hospitals. We’re going to see, unfortunately, a lot of West Virginians die.”
Seventeen additional Covid-related deaths were reported in the state yesterday, bringing the death toll to 3,441. The numbers continue to show the unvaccinated run the greatest risk of getting seriously ill or dying.
Eighty-three percent of the individuals in West Virginia hospitals with Covid are not vaccinated. DHHR figures show that there have been 160,118 Covid cases in the state since the start of vaccinations and only six percent of them have been breakthrough cases. Just over five percent of the deaths since the vaccinations have been breakthroughs.
Health officials are still pushing vaccinations as the best way to avoid getting sick and spreading the virus to others. Sixty percent of West Virginians 12+ are fully vaccinated. Hoyer is worried that unless many more individuals get shots, there could be another surge.
“If we as West Virginians can’t take on the responsibility of getting over 80 percent of our population vaccinated, I think it’s inevitable that probably late fall, early winter, sometime into next spring we could very well see a couple more surges,” Hoyer said.
We thought we had Covid under control back in the early part of the summer. However, the rapid spread of the Delta variant and the slowdown in vaccinations sent us right back to where we were last winter.
If the early indications can be relied upon, we may well be headed in the right direction. However, as we have learned from the previous surges, that will not mean we have seen the last of Covid.