At this week’s midpoint, Mingo County Health Department Administrator Keith Blankenship was considering Mingo County’s COVID-19 numbers as being both good and encouraging.

On Tuesday, the county was slightly in the yellow category with a positivity rate of 3.55 percent  —  compared to the state’s 4.94 percentage rate  —  keeping it within striking distance of the state’s recommended 3 or below percentage rate that places and keeps counties in the green category.

As of Tuesday, two counties were in the red for positivity rates, four counties in the orange, and five counties in the gold. Eight other counties joined Mingo in the yellow category.

“Right now, we’re only seeing about 15 cases a week and currently we are at 45 active cases, so that would suggest that we’re looking pretty good and we’re extremely pleased by that,” Blankenship said. “But having said that, we’re also hearing what everyone else is hearing about the Delta strand so we’re also having to remain extremely vigilant about that.”

As of presstime, the numbers had changed somewhat for the worse. Mingo, along with six other counties, had elevated to gold with a positivity rate of 4.16. A total of 21 counties were yellow with one, Webster, in the red. The number of active cases in Mingo County had risen to 52.

Blankenship said the MCHD, and other local health officials, continue to stress and promote testing and vaccinations for the general population because they remain the best and most effective ways to battle the virus.

“With the return of school coming up on us quickly, we are especially focusing our efforts on getting kids vaccinated not only for the virus but also for all their vaccinations,” he said. “Of course, we’re likely going to see more virus cases with the beginning of school so we want to make sure we’re concentrating a lot of our efforts in this area and getting as many unvaccinated kids vaccinated as we possibly can.”

Blankenship said the WV DHHR Dashboard currently indicates 55 percent of Mingo County’s 65 and older population as having received at least one vaccination dose.

Which, he added, was also encouraging because this percentage rate is on par with the rest of the state in this category.

However, Blankenship went on to point out the Dashboard only credits about 34 percent of all the county’s adults over the age of 18 as having been vaccinated at all, which is well below the state’s average of 57.5 percent for the same age group.

“The Dashboard is still not including all those Mingo County residents who went across the river into Kentucky and got their vaccinations,” he said. “I really believe if these numbers were added to the total this percentage rate would also be right there with the state average.”

While there have been no new official guidelines handed down by either federal or state officials, earlier this week the CDC did recommend that students and staff returning to in-person school should consider wearing masks.

“The state hasn’t made that recommendation yet, but I expect state officials will eventually follow the CDC on this and also make that recommendation,” he said.

“Whether it stays a recommendation or turns into a mandate is anybody’s guess at this point and of course is yet to be decided.”

Dates, locations and times for the back-to-school vaccination events being offered by the MCHD and Mingo County Board of Education are as follows:

Burch PK-8 — July 29 — 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Kermit PK-8 — Aug. 3 — 10 a.m. to noon.

Larry Joe Harless Community Center (Gilbert) — Aug. 13 — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Tug Valley High School — Aug.17 — 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Coalfield CAP Williamson PK — Aug. 23 — 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Coalfield CAP Lenore PK — Aug. 24 — 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Coalfield CAP Delbarton PK — Aug. 25 — 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Matewan PK-8 — Aug. 27 — 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Laurel Creek FWB Church — Aug. 30 — 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Little Dove Baptist Church (Belo) — Aug. 31 — 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Coalfield CAP Gilbert PK — Sept. 2 — 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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