COVID-19 and its Delta variant are causing pandemic statistics in West Virginia to soar as the virus once again takes a sweep across the nation.

The number of deaths in West Virginia hovers at the 3,200 mark, according to reports by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. There are currently 22,972 active COVID cases in the state. Among those 813 are hospitalized, 252 are in intensive care units and 132 are on ventilators.

The state’s daily positivity rate stands at 10.70 percent and its cumulative positivity rate is 5.40 percent.

“We are at an all-time high of people being hospitalized. We are at an all-time high of people on ventilators,” W.Va. Gov. Jim Justice said during his latest press briefing on Wednesday, Sept. 9. “The (COVID-19) vaccine is the only way we are going to be able to stop this. West Virginia now leads the nation in the acceleration rate of this dreaded disease.”

Justice also said there are 68 school outbreaks in 31 counties, and that the entire Clay County school system has been closed. He said 29 of the state’s 55 counties have now put mask mandates in place for their schools.

Students in Mingo County returned to classes on Tuesday, Sept. 7. Currently masks are not required system wide. However, the Mingo County Board of Education adopted a policy to allow parents to choose where and when their children will wear masks. A form was distributed for parents to inform the schools of their choices. The school system will enforce and monitor the individual decisions made by the parents.

“I am hesitant to make a mandatory mask mandate just now. We want the people to make decisions. We want those on the local levels to make decisions,” Justice said earlier this week. “The decisions we previously made on your behalf were right. At the same time, we want locals to make as many of these decisions as they can. They know their areas better than anyone and they are doing exactly that now.”

On the local level, Mingo County, which was categorized as green on the Community Alert System’s color-coded map last month, is now red. It has held the designation of “high-level community spread risk” for several weeks now. The statewide map shows the rest of the state is in the same situation with only three counties — Pocahontas, Pleasants, and Tucker — not being red or orange.

The most recent numbers for Mingo County are also less than encouraging. As of presstime, the county’s infection rate was 127.46 and its positivity rate was 19.23. There currently are 3,467 confirmed positive cases and 541 active cases.

The total number of deaths remained unchanged from last week at 46.

Recommended for you