Gov. Jim Justice on Tuesday warned the number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia has risen “significantly.”
Since Monday, 189 more people have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Hospitalizations for the virus have increased to 111, with 47 people being treated in an intensive care unit, Justice said during his Tuesday coronavirus briefing.
“We have 1,656 active cases in West Virginia, and that is significantly up, significantly up,” Justice said. “We [had] dropped ... active cases below 1,000. Now we’re at 1,656. Not good. Not good.”
West Virginia has seen no new deaths because of the virus in the past day, but state health officials have identified two more COVID-19 fatalities in a review of data, Justice said. The state’s death toll from the virus is 2,936.
Confirmed cases of the delta variant, which state COVID-19 czar Dr. Clay Marsh has called a “much worse” disease, have risen to 43. Marsh said officials continue to monitor delta variant cases, which have quadrupled in the United States this month.
One in four delta variant cases are in Florida, which is experiencing a bigger hospital surge than at any other time during the pandemic, Marsh said.
Ultimately, the delta variant is responsible for the “overwhelming” majority of new cases, Marsh said.
“We know that, although we have found more cases than we did before, the true reflection of the number of cases is probably under-represented, because we also know that the delta variant can infect people who don’t feel very sick and can spread very quickly,” he said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued new guidance saying some fully vaccinated people should resume wearing a face mask indoors in certain parts of the country.
Justice said he does not anticipate reinstating a mask mandate, but he added that he’ll listen to the advice of medical experts.
“Today, I have not had a recommendation whatsoever from any of the medical team, but I will continue to listen and I will absolutely act on the advice of experts,” Justice said. “But I’ll also have my opinions as to what we should do.”