CHARLESTON, W.Va. — COVID-19 cases are rising the fastest among the 18-29 age segment across the nation as West Virginia is continuing to keep a close eye on situations in neighboring states.
On Monday, Gov. Jim Justice reported 1,703 active COVID-19 cases in the state, with 223 occurring over the weekend. Overall, 2.43 percent of the 3,990 people tested in recent days tested positive for the virus.
Justice said growing cases numbers in neighboring states are cause for alarm because West Virginia has an older population with a high number of chronic illnesses. The state also has a high number of residents who suffer from lung diseases, Justice said.
“You could see this explode in the most negative way that you could ever fathom,” the governor said during a Monday media briefing.
The death toll in West Virginia stood at 106 on Monday. Justice reported three deaths over the weekend — all females ranging from age 60 to 93.
Kanawha County had the highest number of active cases in the state Monday at 266.
“They feel that this is community spread. They feel they have it under control,” Justice said.
Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s Coronavirus czar, said troubling statistics out of Florida show that the virus has lingering symptoms on persons with mild cases.
Marsh said that according to a recent study, 35 of people who were treated for COVID-19 in outpatient clinics still had lingering after-effects after two to three weeks.
Moreover, the same study showed that 20 percent of people 18 to 35 who were treated as outpatients were unable to return to work due to lingering after-effects.
Marsh said COVID-19 is also beginning to affect more people age 17 and under in Florida. On July 6, 23,170 cases were reported in that age bracket.
By July 24, the number had grown to 31,150. On July 24, 303 people under the age of 18 were hospitalized in Florida.
“We need to be really careful,” said Marsh, in again stressing the need for face coverings and social distancing.
West Virginia had a RT rate of 1.05 Monday. The RT value is essentially the number of people to whom one infected person transmits the virus.
“Anything over one means the virus is still spreading,” Marsh said.
“The 18-29 age group is really the group responsible for the rapid spread we are seeing across the country,” he said.
Justice said he will provide $1.3 million to fairs and festivals across the state that were cancelled because of the pandemic. The money will come from his contingency fund.
“Maybe 50 percent of our fairs and festivals will go under because of this. This money may not save them all, but I’m hopeful it will save a bunch,” he said.