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COVID-19 cases increase for second week in a row

CHARLESTON – Irresponsible college students and outbreaks in churches, nursing homes, and correctional facilities are just some of the causes in a two-week spike in COVID-19 cases according to state officials.

“I’ve said this over and over: this disease and this killer is still right with us,” Gov. Jim Justice said Tuesday during a coronavirus briefing at the State Capitol Building. “We do not have a vaccine right yet, and nobody knows for sure when we’ll have it … we have to find a way the best we can to manage risk and go about our lives.”

According to the Department of Health and Human Resources, the number of positive cases over the last 14 days between Aug. 25 and Sept. 7 was 2,242, which is a 43 percent increase in positive cases from the previous 14 days.

As of Tuesday — the most recent data available — the state reported 77 new cases. The total numbers of test results over the last 14 days was 58,714, which was a 20 percent decrease in testing compared testing conducted between Aug. 11 through Aug. 24.

Active COVID-19 cases –the number of infected people in self-quarantine or hospitalized — was 2,784 cases as of Tuesday — a 30-percent increase from 2,147 active cases seven days ago. Active cases have increased in 30 out of 55 counties, while cases in 22 counties have decreased and two counties have seen no changes in case numbers. Only three counties have no positive coronavirus cases.

“We have got to know there will be some level of outbreaks and we’re going to have to address that,” Justice said. “For the betterment of all of those in the county, please … wear your masks.”

Justice said there are no new inmate cases over the weekend, but Mount Olive Correctional Center has 134 cases and four cases in the state’s regional jails. There are 34 outbreaks in long-term care facilities, five church-based outbreaks, and 11 outbreaks among staff at schools. At West Virginia University, most undergraduate courses have switched to all virtual over the next two weeks at the Morgantown campus, where 377 students have tested positive since July.

West Virginia’s Rt number — the rate that shows how quickly the virus is spreading in the community — was 1.29 as of Tuesday, peaking at 1.32 on Monday. West Virginia has seen its Rt number increase from the fourth best rate in the country two weeks ago to the worst rate in the nation.

“We’ve had the highest rate in the nation over the last three or four days, which is consistent with what we’ve seen as far as the new cases per day sort of picking up for us,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, the state coronavirus czar. It is really important to not only remember to wear your mask and physically distance, but also to avoid the three C’s: avoid crowds, avoid crowded indoor spaces, and avoid close constant contact with people you don’t live with.”

The state reported 250 total COVID-19 deaths as of Tuesday. Deaths are up by 79 percent over a 14-day period, with 68 deaths reported by DHHR between Aug. 25 and Sept. 7. In the last seven days, the state saw 28 deaths attributed to the coronavirus, a 20 percent decrease from the previous week.

Hospitalizations are at to 152 as of Monday. The average number of hospitalizations between Aug. 25 and Sept. 7 increased by 7 percent over the average number of hospitalizations the previous 14 days. Friday saw a record for hospitalizations at 154. There are 57 infected people in intensive care units and 26 people on ventilators.

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