By CHARLES OWENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD — West Virginia is seeing fewer new COVID-19 cases, but the number of virus-related deaths in the Mountain State is still increasing.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources reported 24 new COVID-19 associated deaths Wednesday, a significant increase from recent days. The 24 new deaths included an 84-year old female from Mercer County and a 70-year old female from McDowell County.
Mercer County is now up to 121 coronavirus-related deaths to date. McDowell County’s virus death toll has now climbed to 26.
“As we continue the fight against this pandemic, we are saddened by the loss of more West Virginians,” DHHR Cabinet Secretary Bill J. Crouch said in a prepared statement. “Scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine is the most powerful way to prevent further loss of life to this devastating disease.”
Despite the 24 new virus-related deaths, the state reported only 90 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday. West Virginia also is down to 3,346 active virus cases statewide. Locally, the number of active virus cases was unchanged in Mercer County Wednesday at 242. So far 36 cases of the more contagious United Kingdom variant of the virus have been reported in Mercer, a number that is considerably low when compared to the county’s population.
In another good sign, the percentage of residents in Mercer County to receive at least one dose of the vaccine is closing in at 40 percent. The figure stood at 39.9 percent Wednesday morning with 23,473 people having received the vaccine. However, another 5,906 people will need to be vaccinated before at least half of the county’s population that is eligible for the vaccine (12 years of age and above) is vaccinated.
In McDowell County, health officials reported four virus-related hospitalizations with one person being on a ventilator, the McDowell County Health Department said in a Facebook posting.
Virus numbers in neighboring Southwest Virginia were largely unchanged Thursday with no new deaths being reported by the Virginia Department of Health.
— Contact Charles Owens at firstname.lastname@example.org