Mon County tracks multiple variant coronavirus cases

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Officials from the Mon County Health Department have identified nearly 200 coronavirus variant cases locally. More than 32 cases U.K. variant and 164 cases of the California variant, which has two mutations, have been confirmed in Mon County.

“These variants of concern are both more infectious, and the U.K. variant is associated with an increased risk of death,” said Dr. Lee B. Smith, MCHD executive director and county health officer. These mutations occur on the outside of the virus and change the way they adhere to human
cells, but do not change how the virus behaves. This means the illness looks the same but may be more severe,”

During the Monday coronavirus briefing statewide czar Dr. Clay Marsh provided the statewide totals.

“One hundred and sixty-eight for the California variant, 194 for the U.K variant and one for the South African variant,” Dr. Marsh said.

The California variant reportedly has two know mutations and it is not completely clear how the it will impact people. But, Dr. Marsh noted a troubling trend.

“As we are looking at the new cases and spread we are seeing our younger West Virginians responsible for a larger percentage of spread,” Dr. Marsh said.

The data shows young people do not have the resistance that was shown with strains reported early in the pandemic. Additionally, studies have proven the U.K variant has a much easier time binding to receptive cells in younger people.

“This is now going to our 10 to 19-year-olds, our 20 to 29-year-olds,” Dr. Marsh said,” We’re even starting to see some positive cases in our 0 to 9-year-olds.”

In Mon County, officials do not know the extent of these infections in the community.

There is good news, Dr. Smith said,” Vaccination helps reduce risk of infection, severity of illness, chance of hospitalization and possibility of death from COVID-19.”

As of April 9, around 60,000 COVID-19 vaccines had been administered by Monongalia County Health Department as well as at the Greater Monongalia County COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic at the old Sears building at the Morgantown Mall. That includes 37,326 first doses and 22,544 second doses.

As spring sports programs begin practice and competition Dr. Marsh urges caution. Follow the guidelines- wear a mask and practice goos social distancing.

“Sports teams and high school students, we’re seeing more spread related to that age group with those organizations,” Dr. Marsh said,” But, the classrooms still appear to be safe.”

Mon County health officer believes the most reliable way to protect yourself and family is to follow the guidelines.

“People still need to wear masks, even if they have been vaccinated,” Dr. Smith said. “And they should be cautious in other ways, by socially distancing when not around individuals with whom they live, washing their hands often and using common sense when they go out in public and engage in activities. Please do not cast all caution to the wind and hope for the best. Now is not the time to let your guard down.”

CDC data says the variants cause more severe disease, spreads more easily between humans, requires different treatments and changes the effectiveness of current vaccines.

Health officials recommend a 14-day quarantine for people exposed to coronavirus.

Free COVID testing id offered in Mon County at both Walgreens locations by appointment and most Mondays and Fridays from 9 to 11 a.m. at the
WVU Rec Center.