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Gov. Jim Justice warned Friday “the stars are aligning” for another COVID-19 surge as temperatures drop and the holidays near.

West Virginia health officials reported more than 1,000 new infections Friday for the second consecutive day, raising total active cases statewide to 6,727, according to the Department of Health and Human Resources dashboard. That’s 243 more cases than Thursday.

Transmission rates continued their weeklong rise. Officials expect the statewide virus reproduction rate over Thanksgiving to top 1.0, indicating rapid spread, with the number of infections climbing as people gather for the Christmas holidays, said James Hoyer, head of the state’s interagency task force.

A total of 839,255 people — 1,680 fewer than reported Thursday — or 49% of those eligible statewide, are fully vaccinated. Just 48,893 of those people have received boosters, “far away” from the number needed to prevent death and serious illness, said state coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh, of West Virginia University.

The ranks of children ages 5 to 11 getting at least one vaccine dose doubled to 1,412 on Friday from 697 a day earlier.

Statewide, 531 people were hospitalized with the virus, 173 in intensive care and 87 on a ventilator. Nearly three-fourths of the hospital patients, 82% of those in intensive care and 86% of those on a ventilator, were unvaccinated.

Outbreaks totaled 35 on Friday at long-term care facilities and one at a church in Nicholas County.

Infected people might be eligible for monoclonal antibody treatment, which revs the immune system to combat the virus and has been shown to prevent severe illness.

Those age 18 or older are eligible for boosters six months after being administered their second Moderna or Pfizer shot and two months after getting a Johnson & Johnson shot.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department will offer flu and virus vaccines for adults and children from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Wagging Tales & Nitro Ales event, in downtown Nitro.

Caity Coyne covers health. She can be reached at 304-348-7939 or caity.coyne

@hdmediallc.com. Follow @CaityCoyne on Twitter.

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