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Delta is here and cases are climbing, so get vaccinated, Justice and team warn again

MORGANTOWN — People are leaving for vacation. School is about to start. But the Delta variant is spreading and West Virginia is on the cusp of trouble, Gov. Jim Justice and his COVID team said Friday.

“It’s too late to stop this Delta variant from entering West Virginia, but it’s not too late for you,” Justice said.

And COVID-19 czar Clay Marsh said, “Not enough people are vaccinated. Not enough of our children, not enough of our citizens. … This variant is going to cause more explosive spread and more explosive illness than we’ve seen before. … The virus will likely continue to get more fit and more able to infect us.”

But we can get more fit, he said, by getting vaccinated. He again pointed out that while even vaccinated people may fall sick with the Delta variant, the vaccine will vastly increase their chances of avoiding being hospitalized or dying.

Active cases continue to climb, according to the Department of Health and Human Resources dashboard: from a low of 882 on July 9 to 3,372 as of Friday morning. Marsh said the latest round of sequencing, where they determine which strain of virus is present in the person, showed Delta made up 91% of the new cases among those sequenced.

Statewide, Delta cases stood at 129 in 32 counties on Friday. Berkeley and Monongalia remained tops, with 24 and 17, respectively.

Hospitalizations are also climbing again, from a low of 58 on July 5 to 210 Friday morning. At one point, the county alert map was nearly all green; now there are five red counties, 12 orange, six gold, and 13 yellow.

There’s still no mask mandate on the horizon, Justice said, and he urged people not to worry. “It is something we should not panic about. Absolutely it is something we should act on right now. … You cannot let everyone down and not get vaccinated.”

Marsh said, “Anybody who’s not vaccinated right now is at very real risk of having a potential severe outcome.” The state is working with the Hospital Association to make plans for hospitals to keep functioning during a possible new surge.

And, Justice said, while plans to open schools are forging ahead, they also have contingency plans if things get worse, and they have to be ready to pivot.

Because the Delta variant can infect even the vaccinated, Marsh said residents may want to consider once again wearing a mask when they go into public places. Keep practicing the usual hygiene measures. And those planning vacation trips should look at the local conditions and plan appropriate precautions.

TWEET David Beard @dbeardtdp