CDC Guidance Calls for Masks in Some West Virginia Counties

June 28, 2022

Mountaineer News

COVID-19 Tracker

CHARLESTON — Masks are recommended for indoor public areas in some area counties, according to metrics from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The federal agency uses a different metric to determine its COVID-19 community levels, which are released weekly on Thursdays, than the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources utilizes for its daily County Alert System Map.

On the state map, 34 of West Virginia’s 55 counties were yellow, the second-lowest level of spread, while the rest were green, the lowest.

Among the green counties were Gilmer, Jackson and Pleasants. But the CDC classified them as having a “high” community level of COVID-19, along with Calhoun and Roane counties, which were yellow on the state map.

The state places counties in one of five tiers based on the infection rate per 100,000 people or percentage of tests coming back positive, whichever is lower. Both metrics are calculated over a seven-day period, according to West Virginia’s online COVID dashboard.

The CDC measurements take into account new cases per 100,000 people over seven days, as well as the percentage of staffed inpatient hospital beds occupied by patients with COVID-19.

None of the five counties designated as “high” reached that rating due to the occupancy of inpatient beds, but all five had rates of more than 200 new cases per 100,000 people in the preceding seven-day period. It takes fewer cases to alter the rate of counties with smaller populations.

Other Mid-Ohio Valley counties in yellow were Wood, Doddridge, Ritchie and Tyler counties. On the CDC map, Wood, Doddridge and Ritchie had community levels of “medium,” in which it is recommended that people wear masks on public transportation and those at increased risk of COVID complications wear masks in indoor public settings. Tyler County is considered at a “low” level on the CDC map, with masks only recommended on public transportation.

Wetzel and Wirt counties are green on the state map and classified as “medium” on the CDC map.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department — which covers Wood, Wirt, Calhoun, Pleasants, Ritchie and Roane counties — has isseud no additional guidance regarding masks as of Monday.

“We recommend people do what they feel is the most safe and comfortable for them,” said Amy Phelps, public information officer for the department.

West Virginia DHHR recorded 1,350 new cases since Friday morning’s update. With a number of prior cases no longer considered active, the state’s active case total dipped slightly, from 2,135 to 2,060.

Active cases in local counties Monday (Friday) were: Calhoun, 8 (15); Doddridge, 8 (5); Gilmer, 5 (8); Jackson, 18 (29); Pleasants, 5 (6); Ritchie, 6 (6); Roane, 30 (27); Tyler, 8 (5); Wetzel, 22 (21); Wirt, 1 (3); and Wood, 84 (88).

COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state increased by two dozen over the weekend.

According to Monday’s statistics from the state Department of Health and Human Resources, 220 people were hospitalized with the virus, up from 196 on Friday.

Of those, 122 were considered vaccinated. State officials have said that label applies to people who received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson version. It does not take into account whether individuals have received booster shots, which have been recommended as the vaccine’s efficacy decreases over time.

Twenty-nine patients were in West Virginia intensive care units as of Monday, 15 vaccinated, 14 unvaccinated. Three patients were on ventilators, two of them vaccinated.

On Friday, there were 23 patients in ICUs and six on ventilators.

There were three pediatric hospitalizations reported Monday, compared to one on Friday.