CHARLESTON – The continued rise in COVID-19 cases in West Virginia may indicate that the rise the rest of the nation has experienced has reached the mountain state.
It was discussed in Friday’s online briefing by Gov. Jim Justice, who also announced an increase in levels for the Civil Service Insurance Agency to prevent government employees from getting higher premiums and deductions as a result of increases approved by the Legislature.
James Hoyer, director of the state’s Joint Interagency Task Force, which is responding to the virus, said earlier this week that the recent spread was likely linked to spring break and other recent travel. During Friday’s online briefing of Justice, Hoyer said officials believe the state “is beginning to see the front end, for us, of the national rise.”
More transmissible subvariants of the omicron mutation of the virus have been attributed. Hoyer said the latest count of the BA.2.12.1 sub-variant was not immediately available Friday, but he would provide an update next week.
Hoyer said the coronavirus transmission rate has recently been between 1 and 1.1. Any number higher than 1 indicates that it is replicating and spreading faster.
“We know that once we get out of that, we will see some additional challenges over the next few weeks,” Hoyer said.
Over the past week, admissions have been between 100 and 130.
“Hospital numbers continue to rise slightly, but remain relatively stable,” Hoyer said.
West Virginia has had 6,893 deaths attributed to the virus since the start of the pandemic in the spring of 2020. They are included in the 1 million deaths that the United States has marked this week.
Hoyer tried to put this number into perspective by saying that the 10 U.S. wars with the highest number of casualties combined – from World War II to the Mexican-American War – totaled 659,287 deaths.
“You would still have to add 340,713 to that number to reach the million people we have lost to COVID in just the last two years,” he said.
Justice noted the sober statistics while trying to look at some positive aspects, including that the state had only recorded two deaths since Monday’s briefing (nine others from earlier in the year were discovered as a result of an ongoing data poll with death certificates) and that several residents continued to receive their first dose of a COVID vaccine, including 142 Thursday.
“How many of those people now will not end up on this list?” It said justice and indicates the people whose deaths had been attributed to the virus.
The governor touched on a number of non-COVID-related issues, including his instruction that PEIA levels should be increased by $ 2,700 so that no workers receiving the forthcoming 5% increase would be forced to a new level and have to pay more. Without the change, more than 15,000 government employees would have been “negatively impacted,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.
Justice said he has promised not to increase PEIA premiums.
Earlier in the day, Justice issued a proclamation declaring Friday Children of Fallen Patriots Day. The day is recognized across the country “to honor the children whose lives were changed forever because of their parents’ service to this nation and our state,” said Ted Diaz, secretary of the Department of Veterans Assistance.