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Testing numbers up in W.Va., but clusters remain

CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice and state officials praised residents on getting tested for the coronavirus, but point to clusters of cases in North Central and Southern West Virginia as reasons to remain vigilant.

According to data from the Department of Health and Human Resources, the total numbers of test results over the last 14 days was 85,193 between Sept. 28 and Oct. 11, which was a 25 percent increase in testing compared to 68,400 test results between Sept. 14. through Sept. 27. The state broke a record for test results Friday with 10,511 results reported to DHHR.

As of Monday, West Virginia has tested nearly 36 percent of the state’s population for COVID-19, more than the U.S average at 35 percent. So far, only 1 percent of the state’s population has tested positive for the coronavirus, with only 2.8 percent of test results coming back positive.

“We’re way past a third of our total population in the state,” Justice said. “We’ve tested 638,821…which is amazing. We need to continue to bear down and keep on testing. It’s the only way out of this thing.”

The number of positive cases over the last 14 days was 2,743, which was a 2 percent increase in positive cases from the previous 14 days. As of Monday, the most recent data available, the state reported 153 new cases in a 24-hour period. Active COVID-19 cases, the number of infected people in self-quarantine or hospitalized, was 4,578 cases as of Monday, a 6-percent increase from 4,330 active cases seven days ago and a 15-percent increase from 3,987 active cases 14 days ago.

Active cases have increased in 37 out of 55 counties. Cases in 16 counties have decreased, including in the two counties with the largest number of cases: Kanawha and Monongalia counties. Two counties have seen no changes in case numbers. Only Pocahontas County has no positive coronavirus cases.

According to the County Alert System map, cases are trending up in Berkeley County in the Eastern Panhandle and North Central West Virginia, including Doddridge, Harrison, Barbour, Upshur, and Randolph, which are all orange. Mingo County is the only county in red for a high level of infection and positivity rate. Justice encouraged people in hotspot counties to go to coronavirus.wv.gov to find a free testing site near them.

“The formula is really simple: we’ve got to find out why these counties are continuing to spread,” Justice said. “The answer is test and find the people who are spreading this who don’t even know they’re doing it. That’s the answer. In all of these counties, I plead with you to get tested.”

The state reported 385 total COVID-19 deaths as of Monday, with three new deaths reported to DHHR Monday. West Virginia saw a second straight decrease in deaths over two 14-day periods – a 29-percent decrease. There were 48 deaths reported between Sept. 28 and Oct. 11 and 68 deaths reported between Sept. 14 through Sept. 27.

Hospitalizations have remained relatively flat. There were 168 hospitalizations as of Monday, a 2 percent increase from seven days ago. The average number of hospitalizations between Sept. 28 and Oct. 11 increased by 1 percent over the average number of hospitalizations the previous 14 days. The number of infected people in intensive care units remained was 62 and 29 people are on ventilators.

West Virginia’s Rt number, the rate that shows how quickly the virus is spreading in the community, was .92 as of Monday. The state’s Rt number shifted from the second best in the nation last week to third best as of Monday. Any Rt value below 1 means the growth of the virus is slowing. West Virginia’s daily percent of positive cases was 2.62 percent. The cumulative percent of positive cases 2.78 percent.

“Really, we’re starting to swing the right way,” Justice said. “Recovered cases versus active cases are starting to get wider again. That’s really good. As far as our daily positivity…we’ve trended down from the latter part of August. It’s still not as good as it needs to be by any stretch of the imagination, but we’re getting better.”

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