State breaks new grim record for virus cases, deaths

By Cuneyt Dil - Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia reported a new peak in confirmed coronavirus cases and a record 206 deaths last week. Health workers also administered nearly 40,000 vaccine shots, doubling the pace of vaccinations.

As the pandemic hits new deadly peaks, the state is now up to 92,070 vaccine doses administered. It closed the week leading the nation on number of doses per 100,000 residents. It next plans a big push to vaccinate teachers ahead of Gov. Jim Justice’s goal to restart in-person education at as many schools as possible on Jan. 19.

A record 7,888 positive cases were reported last week, up 4% from the previous week. West Virginia has set weekly virus records in eight of the past 11 weeks.

“We’re getting close to really making some real headway with this terrible killer,” Justice said Monday. Urging residents to wear masks and get tested, he said, “just help yourself and help your loved ones.”

“We are absolutely moving proactively, to be able to get ourselves back in school, and we’re absolutely going overboard,” he said.

Justice announced that high school basketball practices can start on Feb. 15 for counties that have in-person classes. Games can begin on March 3, three months after the season originally was supposed to start.

A group of about 50 students and others protested outside the state Capitol last Friday to resume sports sooner. Justice had said they can demonstrate as much as they want but that he didn’t plan to budge.

The state has had a total of 1,594 deaths and 82,440 confirmed cases during the coronavirus pandemic. The daily percent positivity rate is at 8.77%, far higher than what experts say is necessary to slow the outbreak.

On Monday, the state reported that 13,469 have received both doses of the vaccine made by either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. Justice said all long-term care centers can expect to receive their second dose later this month, after first doses were offered to all residents and staff at 214 facilities before the end of last year.


Associated Press writer John Raby contributed from Charleston, West Virginia.


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By Cuneyt Dil

Associated Press