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Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department looking into 400-case disparity between state and local COVID-19 numbers

The Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department said they are investigating why the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is reporting nearly 400 fewer COVID-19 cases in Upshur County than the numbers released recently by the local health department.

In a press release issued Wednesday afternoon, the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department reported 1,703 total cases in Upshur County. The DHHR report this morning, however, lists just 1,307 — a difference of 396 cases. The county says 249 cases are active; the DHHR reports 229 active cases.

According to data reviewed by My Buckhannon, the disparity has been growing since the beginning of the year. While it’s normal for the case counts to vary slightly, the difference between state and county has increased significantly in recent weeks:

  • One case difference on Jan. 1
  • 12 cases on Jan. 6
  • 121 cases on Jan. 12
  • 397 cases on Jan. 20

My Buckhannon contacted both the DHHR and Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department for more information.

“We would suggest that you reach out to the local health department as they report their numbers directly to DHHR,” the state communications office advised. “Our epidemiologists report that the numbers from Upshur County are consistent with other days reports.”

The Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department told My Buckhannon they contract with an outside entity associated with the W.Va. National Guard to perform contact tracing and case investigations. That’s how they calculate the local case numbers.

The health department further explained that they too had noticed the disparity and were working to determine precisely what is causing the difference in totals.

The divergence coincides with a major drop in new cases statewide. The 7-day-moving average of new cases in West Virginia reached a peak of 1,524 on Jan. 7 but in just two weeks has fallen to 1,040 per day — the first significant decline since the pandemic began, according to the DHHR’s numbers.

The daily color-coded map for schools uses the DHHR’s totals; Upshur County is listed as orange as of Wednesday.

Locally, the DHHR reported new cases in Upshur (17), Barbour (2), Lewis (2) and Randolph (41) counties Wednesday. Overall, 857 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in the Mountain State.

Twenty-one additional deaths have been attributed to the disease, including one in Upshur County:

  • an 81-year old male from Upshur County,
  • a 92-year old male from Fayette County,
  • a 46-year old male from Raleigh County,
  • a 78-year old male from Pleasants Cou nty,
  • an 82-year old male from Wood County,
  • an 86-year old female from Wyoming County,
  • a 55-year old female from Mercer County,
  • a 72-year old male from Mercer County,
  • an 85-year old female from Jackson County,
  • a 75-year old female from Berkeley County,
  • a 79-year old male from Raleigh County,
  • a 90-year old male from Putnam County,
  • a 59-year old male from Cabell County,
  • an 87-year old male from Mercer County,
  • a 92-year old male from Harrison County,
  • a 92-year old male from Fayette County,
  • an 81-year old male from Mercer County,
  • a 71-year old female from Fayette County,
  • an 89-year old female from Mercer County,
  • an 88-year old male from Preston County,
  • a 65-year old male from Marion County.

“We take the reporting of these deaths very seriously,” said Bill J. Crouch, DHHR Cabinet Secretary, in a press release. “As we extend our deepest sympathies to the loved ones, we also encourage all West Virginians to recognize the continued need to take every possible step to slow the spread of this disease.”

The total number of cases statewide topped 111,000 on Wednesday.

“The West Virginia DHHR reports as of January 20, 2021, there have been 1,784,787 total confirmatory laboratory results received for COVID-19, with 111,677 total cases and 1,836 total deaths,” according to a press release.

About 26,217 West Virginia cases remain active, according DHHR data. Of the cases that are no longer active, 83,624 people have recovered and 1,836 have died. The daily percent positive was 7.7%.

A total of 26,162 people have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 in West Virginia, meaning they have received both doses of the vaccine, the DHHR said.

CASES PER COUNTY: Barbour (1,018), Berkeley (8,227), Boone (1,315), Braxton (694), Brooke (1,801), Cabell (6,556), Calhoun (191), Clay (306), Doddridge (369), Fayette (2,204), Gilmer (539), Grant (932), Greenbrier (2,083), Hampshire (1,257), Hancock (2,344), Hardy (1,107), Harrison (4,114), Jackson (1,510), Jefferson (3,059), Kanawha (10,439), Lewis (737), Lincoln (1,054), Logan (2,160), Marion (2,977), Marshall (2,593), Mason (1,405), McDowell (1,145), Mercer (3,737), Mineral (2,331), Mingo (1,795), Monongalia (6,574), Monroe (834), Morgan (830), Nicholas (957), Ohio (3,154), Pendleton (492), Pleasants (732), Pocahontas (521), Preston (2,266), Putnam (3,578), Raleigh (3,769), Randolph (2,008), Ritchie (508), Roane (410), Summers (641), Taylor (920), Tucker (422), Tyler (515), Upshur (1,307), Wayne (2,149), Webster (223), Wetzel (924), Wirt (303), Wood (6,192), Wyoming (1,449).

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