West Virginia is heading in the wrong direction, as it pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As was announced in a news briefing Friday, the state tops the country in coronavirus transmission rate — the second time West Virginia has held that dubious honor since the pandemic began, and a stunning reversal of trends from a few weeks ago, when the rate here was third-lowest nationwide.
COVID-19 deaths in West Virginia passed the 200 mark last week, and 47 more were reported this week. The number of tests coming back positive has oscillated between 4% to nearly 7% throughout the week, when it previously had been at about 2% throughout the entirety of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, if numbers hold, at least eight West Virginia counties will not be able to open schools to in-person attendance as planned on Tuesday.
All of this is happening on the precipice of the Labor Day holiday weekend, when many West Virginians plan to travel. Previous holidays, such as Memorial Day and Independence Day, and the associated travel to vacation spots or participating in large gathers, have been blamed for escalations in case numbers and deaths.
The governor and public health officials didn’t issue any mandates, but pleaded with West Virginians to consider whether they should travel or leave home and go to places where proper social distancing or mask wearing isn’t standard practice.
We urge the same consideration, especially with schools slated to open to students in at least 47 counties (for now) on Tuesday. The lengthy incubation period with COVID-19 is a problem, and those exposed to the coronarvirus might not exhibit any symptoms for two or three weeks. If they’ve been unknowingly exposing others to the virus in a school setting over that time, it could be disastrous.
Protect yourself and others. Stay home when you can, stay safe, mask up, practice social distancing and other proper public health protocols. There is so much riding on West Virginians looking out for each other right now.