MINGO COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) reports 118 cases of the Delta variant in the Mountain State as of Thursday.
Now, another county has just confirmed it’s first case.
“It’s out there. That’s the reason we just encourage people to do whatever they feel that they need to do to keep themselves safe,” says Keith Blankenship, administrator of the Mingo County Health Department.
That’s the prevailing message from the health department since the confirmation of the Delta variant came in Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s a case that happened about three weeks ago, and the results are just now coming in,” Blankenship says.
Blankenship says this lag is problematic, but unavoidable at the moment.
“Testing for that [the variant] is a sequencing testing that takes about a week of lab time. But the logistics of getting the product to them and back to the reports—all that is another two weeks. So it’s about a three week turnaround,” Blankenship says.
This means that the Delta variant has been in the community for at least three weeks.
“Because of the lag time we spoke about earlier, there’s more than one case in Mingo County now. We can pretty much say that’s a good possibility,” Blankenship says.
It’s a possibility which has the community bracing for the worst:
“The epidemic is coming again. I hope it don’t lay people off work and stuff again but I’m pretty sure it will,” says Travis Griffin of Mingo County.
“The first round of this was just very contagious so it makes it very scary to know that this new variant is a lot more contagious than that,” says Rebekah Mullins of Mingo County.
On top of that, not many people are vaccinated in the county:
“According to the West Virginia DHHR dashboard, we’re at 27.%, which is very very low, puts us lowest in the state—everybody’s aware of that,” Blankenship says.
Health officials in Mingo County say while it’s up to the individual whether they want to get vaccinated or not, it is still crucial to follow CDC guidance, like masking up.
“We know this Delta Variant is very, very serious, and we want ‘em to stay safe… COVID will continue to mutate, and we always do see different strands, so the guidelines are still the same: in other words, when you’re in large crowds we recommend you mask up, we recommend you social distance, recommend good hygiene, wash your hands often, and so forth,” Blankenship says.
Blankenship says they expect to see cases of the Delta variant increase in the county over the next few weeks.