More than 8,000 West Virginians have now died from COVID-19.
Twenty-nine deaths were announced statewide Wednesday morning by the Department of Health and Human Resources’ COVID-19 dashboard. That brings the total number of deaths to 8,005.
That number is higher than the population of eight counties in the state, according to U.S. Census data. That includes Wirt, Pendleton, Calhoun, Tucker, Gilmer, Pleasants, Doddridge and Pocahontas counties. CDC data indicates more than 2,600 people in the state have died from the virus on average per year.
For comparison, the CDC said there were 1,330 drug overdose deaths in the state in 2020. There were 1,485 fatal overdoses from March 2021 to March 2022, according to the state Office of Drug Control Policy.
Reported cases have dropped significantly since last week’s update, with 165 cases statewide compared to last week’s 707. More than a quarter of the reported cases are people older than 70.
“We still want our vulnerable population to remember today that about 90 percent of people who die of COVID-19 are over 65 years old and over 70 percent of people that died of COVID-19 are over 75 years old,” state Coronavirus Czar Clay Marsh said during Gov. Jim Justice’s regular media briefing Wednesday.
“We still want our most vulnerable population and our immunocompromised population to pay particular attention and care to make sure that you stay up to date with your vaccinations, that if you develop symptoms and you’re around somebody who is infected, that you get tested, so that you can call your care provider.”
The DHHR recently switched to weekly COVID-19 updates, keeping in line with the response at the federal level. The federal public health emergency is set to end May 11.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting with support from Charleston Area Medical Center and Marshall Health.