By Shawn Stinson
FRANKLIN – The number of deaths in the county associated with the coronavirus has increased to 16.
Pendleton County Health Department officials announced the latest coronavirus-related death on Feb. 18 on the organization’s Facebook page. The post stated the individual was a 71-year-old male and he had been in the hospital.
It had been nearly one month since the last reported death of a county resident associated with the coronavirus. County officials revealed the death of a 78-year-old male on Jan. 29 on Facebook.
The number of new coronavirus cases in the county continues to slow down. Health officials announced a total of 28 cases in the county since Feb. 14.
There were seven new cases unveiled on Feb. 14, another three cases the following day, seven additional cases on both Feb. 16 and 17 and four cases on Feb. 18 in the county. There were no new cases announced Feb. 19 through Feb. 21 by health officials.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources coronavirus website lists 27 cases of the Delta variant and one case of the Omicron variant being reported since the start of the pandemic in Pendleton County. There has been a total of 1,969 coronavirus cases in the county.
Pendleton County remains listed as green on the WVDHHR state color map. The county’s positivity rate was listed as 3.39 on the Feb. 19 update, 3.16 on the Feb. 20 and 2.66 on the Feb. 21 update. All are in the green level. The infection rate, on the other hand, was in the yellow level at 26.65, 30.75 and 34.85 from Feb. 19 to 21.
There has been a total of 233 breakthrough cases in the county since the start of the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine. There is one breakthrough death. A breakthrough case is defined as an individual testing positive for the coronavirus despite being deemed as fully vaccinated.
Gov. Jim Justice and Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s coronavirus czar, discussed the possibility that the pandemic could begin to transition into an endemic stage during the Feb. 21 press briefing. Marsh cited the reduction in cases associated with the recent surge associated with the Omicron variant due to the immunity levels in state residents. He added the immunity is from the vaccination and the boosters as well as “native immunity.”
“And if the COVID virus does not have a substantial additional set of mutations that creates a different kind of variant that is a much different kind of variant,” Marsh said. “Then indeed, given the immunity that we have and also the acceptance that I think our country has now for the impact of COVID-19 on our citizens, then presumably we will be navigating and transitioning to a more endemic sort of mode.”
Health officials define a pandemic as an epidemic that affects people throughout a large region or across multiple continents. An endemic is defined as a disease that is still spreading from person to another and will affect people all over the world, but it will do so at stable levels.
Marsh cautioned the coronavirus has been “very resilient.”
“We can’t count it out, in case it takes a different turn and has more mutations that give us a brand-new variant with new characteristics that would cause more problems for us,” Marsh said. “But the more people that are immunized, the more likely that we will see this start to fade from pandemic to more endemic.”