McDowell County Health Department

A case of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has been reported in McDowell County, one of only five in the state. J.J. Rose, McDowell County Health Department Administrator, said the resident who tested positive for the variant has recovered and no other Delta variant cases have been detected.

WELCH — McDowell County has reported a COVID Delta (India) variant case, one of only five in the state so far.

The other four cases were found in Monongalia County.

J.J. Rose, McDowell County Health Department Administrator, said the resident who tested positive for the variant has recovered and no other Delta variant cases have been detected.

“That was great news to hear,” he said of the recovery. “We are still looking into it. We cannot link it (to find the source of transmission).”

Rose said the department is waiting for more information from the state.

Overall, McDowell County has recorded 17 cases of the variants, with the bulk of them, 15, the UK and one California.

Delta variant cases have been spreading around the country and pose the risk of being the dominant virus.

Dr. Clay Marsh, state COVID-19 Czar, said last week the virus spreads even more quickly than the UK variant, which has been dominant.

Scientists use an Rt value (the virus’ reproduction rate at a given time) to quantify the average number of people who are infected from one carrier, he said.

The original coronavirus had an Rt value of 1 to between 2.3 and 2.7, which means for one infected person, the spread is likely to infect about two and half other people.

Marsh said the UK variant ratio was 1 to between 3 and 4.

However, each person infected by the Delta variant is likely to pass it on to between five and eight other people.

“You can see how much more infectious the Delta virus is,” he said.

Health officials say the number of variant cases is most likely higher than reported because not all positive tests are processed to screen for the variants.

Vaccinations not only help prevent the spread of all variants, the prevent severe consequences of contracting COVID.

Marsh said 98 percent to 99 percent of people who have died from the virus were not vaccinated.

“Almost everyone who is dying of COVID-19 in this country is a citizen who has chosen not to be vaccinated,” he said.

Children are also seeing more cases, he added, accounting for almost 25 percent of new COVID cases. They do not tend to develop the severe symptoms, but they can.

Marsh said the number of people who died from COVID in the nation last year dropped the average life span a full year in 2020, an average that was already declining because of substance abuse.

Mercer County remained at 49 total variant cases as of Monday, all UK, while Monroe County stood at 12 cases, with 10 UK and two California.

Statewide, 2,200 UK variant cases have been confirmed, with 240 California, seven South Africa, 18 Brazil and five India.

Gov. Jim Justice has been adamant about urging residents to be vaccinated.

“God gave us a miracle beyond belief,” he said of the record pace, about 10 months, of developing the vaccines. “It normally would take years.”

The vaccines are safe and effective, he added. “You are very foolish not to get vaccinated.”

As of Monday, 53.5 percent of all eligible residents had been fully vaccinated.

Active COVID cases continue to drop though, down to 1,467 in the state on Monday as Mercer County stood at 100.

Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

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