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West Virginia COVID-19 Cases Showing Signs of Decrease

CHARLESTON — West Virginia is starting to track with other states that are seeing decreases in coronavirus positive cases, though outbreaks in nursing homes have sent death rates in the state upward.

The number of positive cases over the last 14 days between July 27 and Sunday was 1,704, which is a 6 percent decrease in positive cases from the previous 14 days. As of Sunday, the most recent data available, the state reported 60 new cases. The total number of tests over the last 14 days was 64,327, which was a 15 percent increase in testing compared to testing conducted between July 13 through July 16. More than 18 percent of the state’s population has been tested, matching the national rate. More than 2 percent of tests have come back positive.

Nationally, the U.S. is starting to see a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases. According to The New York Times, there were 48,354 news COVID-19 cases as of Sunday, an 18-percent decrease from 14 days ago.

As of Monday morning, 1,914 active COVID-19 cases were in West Virginia, the number of infected people in self-quarantine or hospitalized. The active case number is a 1.2 percent decrease from last week. Active cases have increased in 22 out of 55 counties, while cases in 26 counties have decreased and three counties have seen no changes in case numbers. Four counties have no positive coronavirus cases.

West Virginia’s Rt value that measures the average number of people who can become infected by COVID-19 sits at .90, the fifth best rate in the country. The lower the number is below 1, the less chance the virus has of quickly spreading. Hospitalizations are up to 123 as of Sunday. The average number of hospitalizations between July 27 and Sunday increased by 52 percent over the average number of hospitalizations the previous 14 days.

Despite the good news about cases decreasing, it might take COVID-19 deaths another week to 14 days to catch up. The state reported 141 deaths as of Monday. Deaths are up by 414 percent over the last 14 days with 36 deaths between July 27 and Sunday. The state’s case fatality rate is 1.8 percent compared to the U.S. rate of 3 percent. The average age of COVID-19 deaths is 76, with people in their 70s and 80s accounting for nearly 60 percent of all deaths.

“The number of deaths we had to report today is staggering,” Gov. Jim Justice said Monday at his virus briefing. “It’s just really sad. We all know this is going on all across our nation. The magnitude across our nation is astronomical…it’s just staggering to think about.”

Eleven deaths are attributed to the Princeton Health Care Center in Mercer County, with eight deaths reported by the Department of Health and Human Resources on Sunday. In a press release, the department said the eight deaths occurred over the last several weeks, but had not been reported due to the resignation of three officials with the Mercer County Health Department.

“This situation just shows us how vulnerable that our nursing homes are and how bad this thing can move and how quickly this thing can move,” Justice said. “Please don’t let these people become a statistic.”

According to the last update from Princeton Center, there were 34 active cases in residents and 21 cases in staff members. Positive cases have also been found in other nursing homes the last few weeks, such as the Grant County Rehabilitation and Care Center and Pendleton Manor in Franklin. Thirty outbreaks are in long-term care facilities across the state, mostly just one or two cases in most of the outbreaks, Department of Health and Human Resources said.

Cases also are up in southern West Virginia. Along with Mercer County, Raleigh, Logan, Boone, Wyoming, Lincoln, and McDowell counties have all seen increases. Dozens of staff members at Logan Regional Medical Center have tested positive. Several employees at Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital also tested positive last week.

There are also cases in the Southern Regional Jail in Raleigh County and the South Central Regional Jail in Kanawha County. Testing of all inmates and staff at South Central Regional Jail has begun. Justice said he would like to do new tests for all correctional facilities and all long-term care facilities but acknowledged that with colleges and K-12 schools getting ready to start up over the next month that it could put a strain on testing.

“I don’t know how we’re going to do it,” Justice said. “We need to develop plans right now to go back through and retest every single person that’s in all the nursing homes again. We need a plan to be able to go through and retest every person in our correctional facilities again. I know these are daunting tasks, because we’re trying to test the kids who are coming back to school.”

Justice also said his administration also is considering reinstituting an executive order limiting visitations to long-term care facilities, except in cases of emergencies or end-of-life.

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