CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WV News) With expanded sequencing of positive COVID-19 samples in the state, public health officials believe the data will show that a majority of cases are caused by the highly contagious Delta variant.
The rate of new cases is now on the rise in the state, as in other areas of the country.
We are right now starting to see a much steeper inflection of the Delta variant as its been spreading. Now it is starting to spread more in the open, said West Virginia COVID-19 czar Dr. Clay Marsh.
Harrison County averaged about 10 new COVID-19 cases per day last week, according to Harrison-Clarksburg Health Department Executive Director Chad Bundy.
We expect those cases to be of the Delta variant, and await sequencing on several of them to determine just that. We understand that several of the commercial labs are sequencing all positive tests, so we expect to see a rise in Delta variant cases in the next few weeks, he said.
In Upshur County, there were 20 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday alone, according to the county health department.
Marsh said there is reason to be worried.
Everybody is very concerned about what is coming, he said. We are making provisions and plans to try to make sure that we have a sufficient ability for our hospitals to function, as we believe that this variant is going to make more and more people sick in the upcoming several weeks.
Officials said that increasing vaccination rates will be the only way to reduce the impacts from the Delta variant, a reality that is particularly concerning given the variants increased ability to sicken children, compared to the original virus, and the inability, thus far, for children under age 12 to get the vaccine.
Older and chronically ill individuals are also more likely to experience more severe illness with COVID-19, he said.
Certainly, vaccines make a huge difference, and the people that have been vaccinated will help us here, but not enough people are vaccinated not enough of our children, not enough of our citizens, Marsh said.
Gov. Jim Justice said he has not ruled out reimplementation of a mask mandate, but he hopes he doesnt have to take that step.
I dont want any part of doing that right now. There is nothing on the schedule to absolutely do a mandate on masks, at all. I want everybody to understand and be perfectly clear on that. However, if you have problems medically and you are 65 and older, and youre in a crowd of people and everything, you may want to think about it. It may help, at least some, Justice said.
According to Bundy, vaccination is the single most effective way to protect yourself and your community from COVID. … All other measures, such as masking and social distancing, simply pale in comparison.
Vaccination sites can be located by visiting vaccinefinder.org, or by contacting your local health department.
Staff Writer JoAnn Snoderly can be reached at 304-626-1445, by email at jsnoderly@theet.com or on Twitter at @JoAnnSnoderly.