COVID-19 has not gone away. It’s still hanging around.
The Cabell-Huntington Health Department is alerting Cabell County residents of increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases over the past several days following the July Fourth holiday. More than half of the county’s confirmed cases in the past seven days have been in the age groups from 10 to 39. Few cases occur in the age groups with the highest vaccination rates — those over 60.
Dr. Clay Marsh, vice president for health sciences at West Virginia University and state COVID-19 czar, said Tuesday that hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients statewide have ticked up from 62 to 80 in the past week, while COVID-19 patients in intensive care units increased from 22 to 39. That breaks what had been an ongoing trend of declining COVID-19 hospitalizations.
The good news here is that the word that is used to describe the increased number of cases is “uptick” and not “surge.”
Marsh said people who are unvaccinated or have had only one dose of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are highly susceptible to the delta variant.
State vaccination rates have plummeted in the past two months. In the past week, the state administered a total of 4,851 doses, an average of 693 doses per day, according to the Department of Health and Human Resources’ COVID-19 dashboard.
At its peak in early March, the state was administering more than 20,000 doses a day.
Most adults who have wanted or needed to be vaccinated have been. If you haven’t been but now believe you should be, vaccines are free to all. Locally the Cabell-Huntington Health Department vaccine center is located next to Best Buy at the Huntington Mall. Walk-ins are welcome, and all three types of the vaccine are available for first and second doses.
The thing is that vaccinations and herd immunity are working. COVID-19 is in the background now. It doesn’t dominate everything. There are no mask mandates, no lockdowns, practically no travel restrictions within the United States. Best of all, there is no panic.
The next big holiday is Labor Day, which marks the unofficial end of the summer fun season. Will we see an increase — an uptick — in the number of COVID cases a week or two later? Probably.
Caution is still called for. For most of us, there is no need for extreme measures. COVID-19 is one of those things we have to be careful about, like traffic safety or food safety. The important thing about the delta variant is that children don’t seem to have the same natural immunity to it that they have had with other variants, so parents and other caregivers may need to be a little more cautious with them — cautious but not overprotective.
The normal we yearned for a year ago has returned. With a little common sense, we can keep it around for a while.