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Upshur County now has the highest rate of COVID-19 spread in West Virginia

After reporting 32 new active COVID-19 cases over the weekend — an increase of nearly 50% — Upshur County now has the highest rate of infection in the state, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services.

The jump comes amidst a soaring number of new cases statewide, with the DHHR reporting 1,037 new cases Monday morning. Nearly all are the more contagious Delta variant, according to state health officials.

The daily percent positive statewide was 8.11% on Monday; in Upshur County, that percentage topped 10% four of the last five days. A total of 99 COVID-19 cases are active locally, according to the DHHR.

The Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department pleaded with county residents to understand the severity of the current outbreak.

“I really hope everyone realizes how serious this is,” nurse director/administrator Sue McKisic wrote on social media. “If you are told you have tested positive… you need to quarantine. Our health department is working cases and will contact you.

“This virus is affecting everyone,” the post continues. “We have an 18-day old infant that has been infected.  Be cautious when you are out; we all know what we need to do. Do your part. Be proactive, not reactive.”

The impact on children was emphasized repeatedly during a press conference held Monday morning.

“We’ve seen an 84% increase in the number of children and infants who have been hospitalized for COVID in the last week,” West Virginia coronavirus czar Clay Marsh said.

More than 100 West Virginians are currently in intensive care in West Virginia as they battle the virus, Marsh said while imploring residents to get fully vaccinated.

Although free vaccines have been widely available for months, West Virginia has one of the lowest rates of vaccination in the nation. In Upshur County, just 37% of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to the DHHR.

Gov. Jim Justice warned of worse days ahead.

“Things are going to get really tough,” Justice said. “Now we’ve got a different twist – this Delta variant can jump on our young people. And we’re faced at another crossroads, going back to school.”

The state has said it will leave school mask rules and other COVID-19 decisions to local school boards, but the governor called out those who have not received the vaccine for putting children and schools at risk.

“You’re taking a hell of a risk if you’re not vaccinated” Justice said, noting the danger to children in particular. “We could have stopped this. This Delta variant is everywhere. It’s everywhere. It’s all around us right now.”

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