At Friday’s pandemic press conference, Governor Jim Justice stepped up his warning about the dangerous spread of Covid-19 and urged people to get vaccinated, saying, “This thing could get really serious.”
“We need to vaccinate more people right now,” the governor said, noting 18 more deaths in the previous two days and “alarming statistics” related to hospitalizations, active cases and infection rates.
And then on Saturday, just in time, the numbers got worse.
As of Friday evening, ten more people had died from complications related to Covid, the third day of the last four where deaths had reached double digits. According to the online database maintained by the Department of Health and Human Resources, the state’s total is 3,064.
Active Covid cases rose from 1,037 to 14,803, an increase of 58% over the past week, marking the seventh consecutive day above 10,000. It was also the third consecutive day that more than 1,000 active cases had been added to the count.
That number is also expected to rise even more, as the DHHR reported 1,611 new cases of Covid since the previous report 24 hours ago.
As the numbers rose inexorably, the governor remained determined on Friday not to order a mask warrant – in schools or in public, leaving those decisions to local leaders.
“I think the local people can make a better decision about this than we can in Charleston,” Justice said.
County Raleigh accepted its offer with county commissioners on Friday by ordering mask warrants in all county buildings starting Monday morning.
The state’s positive test rate remained in double digits at 10.70 percent with 1,448 positive results returned out of 13,527 test samples taken. It was the fourth day of the last six where the rate was 10 percent or more. As of June 29, the daily positive test rate was 1.03%.
Trend lines for three categories of hospitalizations also continued to increase in the latest report.
In the DHHR online report on Saturday, 579 people were hospitalized with Covid, up 32 – or nearly 6% – from the previous day and 527 since July 4.
Of those hospitalized, 181 – about a third – had been transferred to an intensive care unit while 82 – or one in seven – had been intubated to facilitate breathing. Cases of intensive care and ventilator patients increased from the previous day.
Of the state’s 55 counties, 33 were in red, the highest of five colors on the state’s color-coded map that measures the prevalence of the disease.
In the Register-Herald’s main market, seven of the nine counties were in red, with Greenbrier posting the highest infection rate of 92.73 per 100,000 people – the second highest in the state after the rate of 112, 02 from Randolph County.
Monroe (84.48) and Wyoming (82.66) counties also had relatively high transmission rates. County Raleigh, the most populous county in the region, saw its rate rebound slightly, from 64.85 to 62.70.