Numbers and statistics related to the COVID-19 virus in West Virginia have taken yet another turn for the worse as new results were posted earlier today. Most notable, for the local community, is that Mingo County has moved to the red category.

Mingo County’s stats have been all over the map (the modified Harvard Global Health Institute Model for community spread). The county is now considered to be at “substantial community transmission risk." Counties enter the red category when their positivity rate on a seven-day rolling average hits or exceeds .25 percent. As of the latest map released at 10 a.m. today (Friday, Sept. 18,), the county stood at 27.44.

The numbers and color categories have changed several times this week. On Monday, Mingo County had a rate of 13.42 percent which was then orange. Once the new color category of gold was introduced on Tuesday, the county was reduced to gold. However that ranking only lasted for one day before returning to the orange bracket on Wednesday.

Because of the gold classification, the Mingo County Board of Education announced that in-person classes would resume on Thursday. Classes proceeded that day because decisions concerning school districts in orange counties are made in conjunction with the Saturday map; red means in-person classes are suspended the following day.

With today’s map, Mingo County is joined in the red classification by Fayette and Puttnam counties. Kanawha County has been ranked in the red since last week. Two counties are designated as orange: Boone and Monongalia counties. Like Mingo, Boone was orange but dropped to gold with the new coding metric but once again returned to orange. Mon. County had been in the red for about two weeks and has finally dropped into a lower category.

Announcements made on Mingo Central High School’s Facebook page said that tonight’s game between MCHS and Tug Valley High School has been cancelled.

The post on Mingo Central’s page read: “With such sadness, I post that Mingo County has gone red and all extracurricular activities are cancelled including tonight’s game with the Tug Valley Panthers. Let’s go, Mingo County, wear your mask, wash your hands, and social distance. Our kids need a chance to experience some normalcy. Love and prayers to all of those affected by COVID-19 -- it’s real.”

West Virginia is nearing 300 deaths as of Gov. Jim Justice’s press briefing today. The mortality rate is at 297 deaths, which is an increase of 34 person’s since last Friday. If the current trend continues-- 12 deaths reported on Monday, five on Tuesday, 10 on Wednesday and 7 today -- the state will surpass the 300 mark by the time of the governor’s next briefing on Monday, Sept. 21.

Other statistical indicators are also showing the state is in dire straits. West Virginia now has 3,375 active COVID-19 cases with 253 being reported in the past 24 hours. The state’s daily positivity rate has soared to 4.85 percent and the cumulative positive rate has now reached 2.72 percent.

When the multi-step phased-in reentry program “West Virginia Strong -- The Comeback” was announced in late spring, Justice said that the threshold number for the reentry would be at 3 percent. At that point, the governor said the reentry could “have the brakes put on or reversed” if it reached 3 percent.” Because of high incidents of community spread, bars in Mon. County were temporarily closed. They reopened and Justice said they were not following protocols and have been shut down once again.

West Virginia’s Rt or R-naught value, which measures the transmission/infection rate of the virus from one person to another, is now the second highest in the nation at 1.23 percent. Earlier this week the state was the worst in the nation. During the summer, West Virginia had the distinction of having the best Rt value in the country.

Justice said today, there will be a push to expand testing in red, orange and gold counties. Testing will be conducted on Wednesday, Sept. 23, from  9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Larry Joe Harless Community Center in Gilbert.

The categories for the community alert system are as follows:

-- Green, minimal community transmission, 0-3;

-- Yellow, increased community transmission, 3.1-9.9;

-- Gold, elevated community transmission, 10-14.9;

-- Orange, heightened community transmission, 15-24.9; and

-- Red, substantial community transmission, 25 and above.

Each category has its own set of protocols and/or restrictions in place to guide school districts and athletic programs throughout the year.

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