HUNTINGTON — West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky all reported record numbers of new positive COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations Thursday.
With 561 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases reported Thursday, West Virginia set a single-day record for the highest number of new cases, according to state COVID-19 data.
The new cases — 426 confirmed positive and 135 probable, both of which are record highs — came from more than 10,000 tests submitted, leading to a near 4% daily positive rate. The seven-day average of confirmed cases in the state (331) also hit a new high this week.
As of Thursday, there were 26,547 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in West Virginia, with 5,892 of those currently active, and 480 COVID-19-related deaths.
The previous record was set almost a month ago, on Oct. 15, when 346 new cases and 115 probable cases were confirmed. Today, the increase is compounded with record numbers of hospitalizations (281) and those in intensive care (93).
Of those hospitalized, 31 are on ventilators. That’s down from 35 on Monday, according to state data. The high for most people on ventilators at one time occurred Sept. 17, when 40 of the 175 people hospitalized were receiving that treatment.
Despite the continued increase in COVID-19 cases across West Virginia, 27 counties were classified as green on the state’s COVID-19 alert system map Thursday. Only two counties — Mingo and Mineral — were red, indicating extreme virus spread.
According to the latest Harvard Global Health Institute’s COVID-19 risk level map, which has been criticized in the past by Gov. Jim Justice, only one county — Gilmer — was green, while 13 were red, meaning a stay-at-home order is recommended for those areas.
The state’s cumulative positive case average (the number of positives divided by the number of tests given) was at 2.99% Thursday, dangerously close to the 3% threshold Justice set early in the pandemic that would have meant slowing down or walking back reopenings that could come with preventable spread of the virus.
If probable cases — such as instances where someone has not necessarily been tested for COVID-19 (like a child), but has been exposed, may be exhibiting symptoms and is quarantining until a confirmed positive or negative is received — were counted in measuring the cumulative average, the rate would be at 3.26%.
Justice said Wednesday despite the increase in cases, he is not ready to implement further restrictions to help slow the spread of the virus.
“From the standpoint of pulling the plug and shutting things down, we’re not going to do that,” Justice said. “I do not think we need to move aggressively at this point toward shutdowns.”
He acknowledged, however, all options would be on the table if the situation worsens.
In Cabell County, two more deaths related to the virus were confirmed by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. The 86-year-old man and 81-year-old woman were the county’s 33rd and 34th virus-related deaths.
Other deaths confirmed Thursday were a 91-year-old woman from Wetzel County, 89-year-old woman from Mercer County, 67-year-old man from Mercer County, 71-year-old woman from Mercer County, 82-year-old man from Putnam County and 90-year-old woman from Summers County.
Total cases per county are: Barbour (195), Berkeley (1,794), Boone (439), Braxton (82), Brooke (263), Cabell (1,643), Calhoun (37), Clay (70), Doddridge (75), Fayette (827), Gilmer (71), Grant (203), Greenbrier (231), Hampshire (165), Hancock (253), Hardy (113), Harrison (711), Jackson (438), Jefferson (676), Kanawha (3,997), Lewis (132), Lincoln (285), Logan (821), Marion (445), Marshall (494), Mason (189), McDowell (153), Mercer (850), Mineral (294), Mingo (708), Monongalia (2,434), Monroe (273), Morgan (170), Nicholas (201), Ohio (719), Pendleton (79), Pleasants (40), Pocahontas (74), Preston (249), Putnam (1,073), Raleigh (916), Randolph (452), Ritchie (65), Roane (117), Summers (160), Taylor (178), Tucker (68), Tyler (68), Upshur (293), Wayne (651), Webster (38), Wetzel (264), Wirt (59), Wood (856) and Wyoming (396).
The Cabell-Huntington Health Department reported 494 active cases Thursday.
Cases in Ohio are also at an all-time high.
The state recorded 4,961 new positive cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, for a total of 235,170. It is the third day in a row more than 4,000 cases were reported. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine called the case count “shockingly high.”
Thirty-three new deaths were also reported, for a total of 5,461.
New cases are increasing at a higher rate than testing, DeWine said. Since Sept. 24, the total number of tests has increased about 44% compared to the state’s case data, which increased 280% during the same period.
Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 are also increasing. There were 2,075 patients Thursday, which was a 55% increase in hospitalized patients compared to two weeks ago. There were 541 in intensive care units, a new all-time high. The previous high was 533 in April.
DeWine said doctor/ER visits are resulting in more COVID-19 cases than ever before.
All counties have high incidence rates of the virus. Lawrence County, which is red on the state’s map, reported 32 new positive cases Thursday, with patients’ ages ranging from 2-79. Six are children, with five being school-age. The number of active cases in the county was not updated by the Lawrence County Health Department due to time restraints, a release said.
Kentucky reported 2,318 new positive cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. It is the second-highest daily total, only behind a day the state reported a backlog of cases. Twenty new deaths were reported, including an 81-year-old woman from Boyd County.
The Ashland-Boyd County Health Department reported 31 new positive cases, including a 75-year-old man who is hospitalized. Those isolating at home range in age from 2 months to 80 years old.
There are 1,102 people hospitalized for COVID-19 across Kentucky, with 291 in ICU and 129 requiring ventilators.
The United States recorded more than 100,000 new daily cases Wednesday, the first time any country in the world has done so.
Across the nation, health officials warned of a spike in cases as cold weather and flu season approached. The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates a peak in COVID-19 infections nationwide is still to come.