June Leffler Published

W.Va. Is ‘Not Out Of The Woods’ As COVID-19 Deaths Continue

A computer rendering of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

With 4,500 West Virginians passing away from COVID-19, the state’s COVID-related death rate is higher than the national average.

About .25 percent of the state’s population has died over the course of the pandemic. That death rate now ranks higher than the national average of .22 percent.

According to data compiled by the New York Times, the count in West Virginia is higher than 35 other states.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been declining for weeks in the Mountain State. Those are signs that the delta surge is on a downturn, but COVID-related deaths are the last indicator of a variant’s course.

Cases peaked in September, but retired Maj. Gen. Jim Hoyer said Friday during the state’s COVID briefing that he expects there is still a significant number of people entering the ICU who will never make it home.

“We still have a path of additional deaths in West Virginia,” Hoyer said.

It’s hard to pinpoint when deaths statewide may have peaked. Health officials say it can take days or weeks to accurately confirm and report those deaths.

Almost 100 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in just the past week, and more than 700 over the past month.

Hospitalizations peaked in late September with more than 1,000 patients admitted. As of Friday, more than 500 people are hospitalized with the virus, while 199 are in the ICU and 105 are on ventilators. Those numbers are still some of the highest we’ve seen over the course of the pandemic.

“We are not out of the woods yet related to, unfortunately, losing more West Virginians due to COVID,” Hoyer said.