What’s Going on with COVID-19 in Pocahontas County and West Virginia?
The COVID-19 pandemic in Pocahontas County and in the entire State of West Virginia is now quite different from what we saw in the late fall and winter. Then, most counties in the state including Pocahontas County, were shaded yellow, orange, gold and even red on the state’s COVID map. Those colors indicated the severity of the disease spread in each county. Pocahontas County was a red county on that map for quite a few days, indication the most serious level of infection. Schools in many counties, including here, were reduced to providing only distance remote learning, and statewide daily deaths attributed to this virus soared. Except for twelve sad and tragic deaths here, Pocahontas County was mercifully spared from the massive number of COVID deaths that happened in many other West Virginia counties. This was rather remarkable considering that we have one of the oldest populations in the state.
What a difference a few months of warmer weather, numerous vaccine shots and effective precautions taken by West Virginians have made. The state’s COVID map as of the day this was written -July 13th, is overwhelmingly colored green -indicating a very low infection level, with only one COVID death reported in the entire state over the past seven days. To put this decline in cases into perspective, compare these current numbers of deaths that to the 16 deaths in the state reported in one day -January 9th, 2021, and to the 36 West Virginians who died of COVID on another single day -January 8th. As of today, there are only two active COVID cases and one probable case in this county.
Even though Governor Justice has eliminated mask and social distancing requirements as of June 20th, the number of cases and deaths have continued to decline in the state. But is this -as recently described by Cindy Wilfong of the Pocahontas County Health Department -simply the “calm before the storm?”
We keep hearing from the national news media that a more contagious form of the COVID virus. which came here from India -the Delta Strain- is sweeping across the U.S. So, on July 9th, we asked Andrea Lannom, Public Information Officer for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health whether that new Delta strain has reached West Virginia.
Lannom replied: “Currently, there are 18 cases of the B.1.617.2 or Delta variant affecting 8 counties. There are 6 cases in Monongalia County, 6 cases in Berkeley County, and 1 case each in Greenbrier, Hampshire, Harrison, Kanawha, Marion, and McDowell counties.”
So, it remains to be seen if the return of cold weather combined with this new more contagious variant or the virus will bring about a resurgence of COVID-19 in our area this fall and winter. The good news is that the new strain, while more contagious, is not believed to be any more deadly than the original strain was. The CDC is also assuring us that the current vaccines remain effective against that Delta strain.
So, could we be facing new economy killing lockdowns, business closures and mask wearing this fall? Let’s hope and pray that doesn’t happen and that we are arriving at the end of this year-long nightmare, not at the beginning of a new resurgence of it.