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State COVID numbers are slightly down

CHARLESTON — It remains to be seen if the trend is a blip, but new COVID-19 cases, active cases and hospitalizations are showing signs of decreasing in West Virginia.

According to an analysis of data released Monday by the Department of Health and Human Resources, the number of positive cases over a 14-day period between Jan. 4 and Sunday was 17,914, which was a 2 percent decrease compared to 18,278 cases during the prior 14-day period.

As of Monday, the most recent data available, the state reported 988 new cases received in a 24-hour period compared to Sunday’s data. The state averaged 1,069 cases per day over a seven-day period, down from 1,485 cases the previous seven days.

Active COVID-19 cases, the number of infected people in self-quarantine or hospitalized, was 26,777 cases as of Monday, a 9 percent decrease from 29,257 active cases seven days ago. All 55 counties have active cases for the 13th week in a row. Active cases have decreased in 42 out of 55 counties.

West Virginia’s Rt number, the rate that shows how quickly the virus is spreading in the community, was 0.85 as of Monday, down from 0.97 last week. The state’s Rt number moved to the best rate in the nation after being second worst three weeks ago. Any Rt value below 1 means the growth of the virus is slowing, while numbers above 1 mean the virus is spreading.

There were 643 hospitalizations as of Monday, down from 755 hospitalizations the previous week, a 15 percent decrease. The average number of hospitalizations between Jan. 4 and Sunday decreased by 1 percent over the average number of hospitalizations the previous 14 days. The number of infected people in intensive care units was 172, down from 212 last week, and 91 people are on ventilators, down from 104 last week.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the percentage of inpatient hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients was 15 percent as of Jan. 4, about 2 points lower than the previous average. Out of an estimated 782 ICU beds in the state, 641 beds, or 82 percent of the state’s ICU capacity, is being used.

It’s unclear if the state’s COVID-19 vaccination effort is having a positive effect on West Virginia’s cases or hospitalizations, but the state continues to lead the nation for the number of shots in arms.

As of Monday, the state had administered 130,600 first doses of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, which is 7 percent of the state’s nearly 1.8 million residents. Both vaccines require two doses each, with the Pfizer vaccine requiring a second shot after 21 days and the Moderna vaccine requiring a second dose after 28 days. Also Monday, 23,092 residents had received their second shot of the vaccines.

COVID-19 testing also is up, helping identify cases early before symptoms worsen. The total numbers of test results over a 14-day period between Jan. 4 and Jan. 17 was 214,023 ­– a 40 percent increase in testing compared to 152,978 tests results between Dec. 21. through Jan. 3. Over the last seven days, the state conducted an average of 15,432 tests per day, up from 15,164 tests per day the previous week.

Deaths attributed to COVID-19, a lagging indicator, remain at high levels. The state reported 1,784 total COVID-19 deaths as of Monday. There were 400 deaths reported between Jan. 4 and Sunday, a 61 percent increase from the 248 deaths reported the previous 14 days. Over a seven-day period, the state saw an average of 27 deaths per day.

Today marks the first day for public and private schools to re-open for in-person learning under new protocols. Starting today, all counties can re-open Pre-K, elementary, and middle schools for in-person learning. High schools can also re-open as long as their county is not red on the County Alert System map.

On the DHHR County Alert System map, 17 out of 55 counties were listed as red due to either higher infection rates or percent positivity, with 29 counties listed as orange, the second worst color rating, followed by six gold counties and three yellow counties, the next best color to green.

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