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BLOX covid 08

HUNTINGTON — A local hospital is changing its policy regarding face coverings as the coronavirus continues its hold on the region.

According to a post on its Facebook page Tuesday evening, King’s Daughters Medical Center is changing its masking requirements due to the surge of COVID-19 transmission associated with the omicron variant. Beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12, King’s Daughters Medical Center will not permit cloth face coverings in its facilities.

“Patients, visitors, vendors, team members, volunteers and all others will be required to wear a Level II or III surgical/isolation mask or an N95/KN95 mask at all times while in any of our facilities. Masks must be properly worn — completely covering the nose, mouth and chin,” the post stated.

The Ashland hospital said proper masks will be available for anyone who does not have one.

The Ashland-Boyd County Health Department reported that the county is “still seeing a drastic increase in positive cases,” including 854 new cases from Jan. 4-10. Boyd County has reported a total of 11,282 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

The surge in cases has been seen across the region, with an additional 2,508 COVID-19 cases reported in West Virginia on Tuesday, according to the state Department of Health and Human Resources’ dashboard.

Of those cases, 13,268 — 1,856 fewer than Monday — were active.

Active cases per county are: Barbour (45), Berkeley (1,637), Boone (136), Braxton (82), Brooke (182), Cabell (754), Calhoun (27), Clay (44), Doddridge (17), Fayette (279), Gilmer (20), Grant (77), Greenbrier (236), Hampshire (173), Hancock (238), Hardy (117), Harrison (370), Jackson (72), Jefferson (833), Kanawha (1,338), Lewis (44), Lincoln (123), Logan (165), Marion (397), Marshall (291), Mason (98), McDowell (91), Mercer (408), Mineral (291), Mingo (119), Monongalia (881), Monroe (78), Morgan (157), Nicholas (95), Ohio (494), Pendleton (40), Pleasants (39), Pocahontas (21), Preston (208), Putnam (477), Raleigh (500), Randolph (171), Ritchie (31), Roane (67), Summers (51), Taylor (98), Tucker (8), Tyler (38), Upshur (106), Wayne (181), Webster (14), Wetzel (115), Wirt (17), Wood (589) and Wyoming (88).

Seven more deaths related to COVID-19 were reported in West Virginia on Tuesday, bringing the total to 5,452.

As of Tuesday, 803 West Virginians were hospitalized for the virus — 12 fewer than Monday. Of those patients, 220 were in an intensive care unit and 128 were receiving care on a ventilator. The number of patients in intensive care and on ventilators was down from Monday.

More than 75% of those hospitalized are unvaccinated, according to the dashboard.

There are at least 375 cases of the omicron variant confirmed in West Virginia, up from 293 reported Monday and just 75 reported last week.

Those who are fully vaccinated and boosted are most protected against the virus, according to health experts.

About 55% of eligible West Virginians — 940,226 individuals — are fully vaccinated against the virus. Another 8% of those eligible — 150,700 residents — report being partially vaccinated, according to the dashboard.

Vaccination rates are lowest in children ages 5 to 11, with 11% reporting to be fully vaccinated, and 12 to 15, where 38% report being fully vaccinated.

Last week, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel approved administering Pfizer booster doses in children ages 12 and older.

Under new guidance, booster doses can be given five months after someone receives their initial mRNA round of the vaccine or two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson one-dose.

So far, about 37% of those fully vaccinated in the state — 356,141 individuals — have received a booster dose of the vaccine, according to the dashboard.

In Ohio, more than 19,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Tuesday, for a total of 2,226,881. There have been 30,381 virus-related deaths in the state.

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