Six new COVID deaths reported in West Virginia , Sports, Jobs and Sentinel

CHARLESTON — Six more people have been confirmed dead from the COVID-19 coronavirus since Friday, including a resident of Roane County, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources announced Monday.

The department reported the deaths of an 87-year-old man from Roane County, a 76-year-old woman from Raleigh County, a 94-year-old woman from Morgan County, a 78-year-old woman from Morgan County, a 90-year-old man from Taylor County and a 98-year-old woman from Cabell County.

The additional deaths raise the toll since the pandemic started to 7,493.

DHHR Secretary Bill J. Crouch expressed the state’s condolences.

“Good health must never be taken for granted,” he said. “As we comfort those who mourn today, I urge all West Virginians to stay up to date on their COVID vaccines and boosters.”

The state reported 802 active cases of the virus and 564 new positive cases since the last pandemic update on Friday. Cases generally have been on a downward trend, and while health officials believe the state has reached a plateau with the latest omicron BA.5 surge, numbers could rise with the approach of cold weather and people staying inside.

“We still got to watch. It’s going to get colder,” Gov. Jim Justice said during his Monday morning online briefing.

Another issue is the mutations of the omicron BA.5 strain, the BQ.1 and the BQ1.1, said Dr. Clay Marsh, coronavirus adviser for the state of West Virginia. While infections of the BA.5 are dropping, infections from the mutations are growing, he said.

Hospitalizations are increasing in New York City because of the BQ.1 and BQ1.1 strains, Marsh said.

“They’re more infectious,” he said. “Their superpower is they have additional mutations in the spike proteins and they are not reduced in their functions by the use of the therapeutic monoclonal antibodies.”

However, the latest boosters offer protection against the new strains, Marsh said.

Pleasants County was the only county in the state that was rated gold Monday on the County Alert System Map. Gold is mid-level on the map with green and yellow the lowest and second lowest, respectively.

The designation is based on the lower of the measurements of infection rate and percent of tests coming back positive. While Pleasants County is rated gold, its percent positivity is in the red zone.

All other counties in the region are green. However, Gilmer, Ritchie, Tyler and Wirt counties’ measures for infection rates are yellow. Wood is yellow on percent positivity.

Active cases in local counties on Monday (Friday) were: Calhoun, 0 (1); Doddridge, 2 (5); Gilmer, 4 (2); Jackson, 12 (11); Pleasants, 11 (3); Ritchie, 3 (0); Roane, 6 (5); Tyler, 2 (3); Wetzel, 2 (1); Wirt, 1 (0); Wood, 35 (33).

Statewide hospitalizations were at 140 patients on Monday with 22 in an intensive care unit and seven on ventilators. Two pediatric cases with one in an ICU were reported.

Hospitalizations dropped by 17 since Friday’s report.

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