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W.Va.’s new COVID milestone: Deaths from disease top 3,000

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia marked a sad milestone Thursday as COVID-19 deaths topped 3,000 in the state — at 3,0001.

With the more infectious, deadlier Delta variant causing surges nationwide, the pandemic has killed more than 624,000 people in the United States. According to Reuters, more than 1,000 deaths were reported Tuesday alone — about 42 per hour.

As retired General James Hoyer pointed out at Wednesday’s state COVID-19 briefing, more people have now died from the disease in West Virginia than were killed at the World Trade Center site on Sept. 11, 2001.

Reaching the 3K mark Thursday wasn’t the only somber COVID news, however. The state now has 421 people hospitalized with the virus — up from 409 Wednesday — with 131 of those in the ICU.

From Wednesday to Thursday, the state clocked 970 new cases and four deaths.

Hoyer said Wednesday that at this rate, West Virginia’s hospitals will reach the maximum capacity held at the start of the pandemic within two weeks.

Officials have not been shy urging West Virginia residents to get vaccinated, especially in light of the Delta’s increasing hold on the state. Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s COVID-19 czar, said Wednesday the Delta variant makes up about 91% of the state’s new cases — and nearly 100% of new cases in the country.

Also, physicians are seeing younger and younger people fall victim to the virus — most hospitalizations right now are people in the 30-39 age range.

Addressing Monongalia County Commission Wednesday, County Health Officer Dr. Lee Smith said the statewide hospitalization numbers included two children in intensive care units, on ventilators. However, younger people are the age group where vaccination rates lag the most.

To that end, Gov. Jim Justice will announce a new vaccine incentive plan aimed at young West Virginians Aug. 20.

Thursday’s numbers indicated 8,175 active cases in the state — a number that stood at 5,949 Monday.

As of this morning, there are 458 confirmed Delta variant cases. There were 322 Monday.

TWEET @DominionPostWV