Shepherd Snyder Published

Twenty More COVID-19 Deaths Reported As BA.5 Continues Surge

The new coronavirus uses spikes on its surfaces to infect cells.

Updated on Friday, July 29, 2022 at 10:21 a.m.

Twenty more COVID-19 deaths were reported during Gov. Jim Justice’s briefing Thursday as the BA.5 variant continues to infect West Virginians at a high rate.

The variant accounts for 82 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the United States.

There are 3,351 active cases in the state, with 1,197 new cases being reported by the Department of Health and Human Resources since its last update. Justice also says there could be more positive cases going unreported because of home testing.

“I remind and remind and remind that absolutely, especially if you’re over the age of 50, and you were vaccinated, come on, we got to get your booster shot. That’s just all there is to it,” Justice said. “Every person we get across the finish line is a life that is possibly saved.”

The number is among the highest active case numbers in the state since February, with the surge expected to peak in the coming weeks. Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh says this amount of new cases is a direct result of the highly contagious BA.5 variant.

“We’re seeing that equate with more hospitalizations,” Marsh said. “And we know the most important thing people can do to protect themselves is be up to date with their vaccines.”

As of the briefing, 327 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized. Out of those patients, 51 are in the ICU and 13 are on ventilators.

Justice also announced a third probable case of monkeypox in the state – the second in Berkeley County. This brings the total number of probable cases in the state to three.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting with support from Charleston Area Medical Center and Marshall Health.

***Editor’s Note: This story was updated to clarify the amount of new monkeypox cases announced Thursday.