As the list of Covid-19 school outbreaks statewide continues to expand, the Kanawha County school system has seen its number of affected schools rise.
The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department on Monday announced that Covid-19 outbreaks have been reported in seven schools within Kanawha County. According to a KCHD press release, it is the highest number of school outbreaks the county has seen at one time since the start of the pandemic.
Outbreaks are reported in St. Albans and Riverside high schools, Chamberlain and St. Francis elementary schools, John Adams and Hayes middle schools and Cross Lanes Christian School. A total of 41 students and three staff members were affected as of Monday morning.
"While things continue to open up, we need to be very diligent in wearing our masks, keeping social distance and frequently washing our hands," said Dr. Sherri Young, health officer and executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. "If we're not careful with travel and following Covid-19 guidelines, we could easily see another wave of this pandemic.
"It's critical that those who can be vaccinated receive their Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them."
In light of the rising case numbers in schools, the KCHD said Monday afternoon it shifted its vaccination strategy this week.
Beginning Tuesday, the KCHD and the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority teamed up with Kanawha County Schools, Charleston Area Medical Center, West Virginia Health Right and the Charleston Fire Department to provide Covid-19 vaccines to students age 16-and-up in all eight Kanawha County high schools. Additional clinics were planned for students at Charleston Catholic High School and the University of Charleston.
The focus on eligible students and other groups will be part of a concerted effort to stop the spread of the virus, health officials note, and it will feature 16 vaccination clinics during the week.
KCHD will also be back at the Roosevelt Community Center this week to provide vaccinations for four primarily African-American groups.
"We're changing our strategy to vaccinate in the groups where we continue to see Covid-19 spread," Young said in a press release. "Unfortunately, we continue to see high numbers of cases and outbreaks in our schools, mostly related to sports, so that's one of the places we want to focus our efforts."
While KCHD offers Covid-19 vaccines at schools, vaccinating those over age 65 is still also a priority. Anyone age 65-or-older who has not yet received a Covid-19 vaccine may call the clinic at 304-348-8080 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. and get a same-day appointment.
KCHD and the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority will hold a combination drive-up Covid-19 testing and vaccination clinic Friday, April 2 at Shawnee Sports Complex, 1 Salango Way in Dunbar. The clinic will run from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Vaccines that day will be by appointment only, but no appointments are necessary for Covid-19 testing.
• • •
As of March 30, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources reported there have been 2,438,840 total confirmatory laboratory results received for Covid-19, with 141,332 cases and 2,640 deaths.
The DHHR on March 30 confirmed the deaths of a 74-year-old Raleigh County woman and an 84-year-old Raleigh County woman.
On March 29, the DHHR confirmed the deaths of a 75-year-old Kanawha County man, a 67-year-old Raleigh County man, an 89-year-old Kanawha County woman, and a 93-year-old Kanawha County woman.
"Each tragic death reported is a solemn reminder of the seriousness of this disease," DHHR Cabinet Secretary Bill J. Crouch said in a press release. "We send our sympathy to these families and urge all West Virginians to continue following the guidelines to protect one another."
Cases per county through March 30 were: Barbour (1,310), Berkeley (10,632), Boone (1,740), Braxton (837), Brooke (2,061), Cabell (8,385), Calhoun (243), Clay (389), Doddridge (514), Fayette (2,981), Gilmer (730), Grant (1,167), Greenbrier (2,498), Hampshire (1,609), Hancock (2,630), Hardy (1,391), Harrison (5,144), Jackson (1,775), Jefferson (4,009), Kanawha (13,045), Lewis (1,099), Lincoln (1,355), Logan (2,935), Marion (3,924), Marshall (3,171), Mason (1,868), McDowell (1,411), Mercer (4,385), Mineral (2,640), Mingo (2,301), Monongalia (8,633), Monroe (1,015), Morgan (1,007), Nicholas (1,378), Ohio (3,833), Pendleton (666), Pleasants (817), Pocahontas (616), Preston (2,714), Putnam (4,542), Raleigh (5,494), Randolph (2,462), Ritchie (639), Roane (523), Summers (725), Taylor (1,149), Tucker (516), Tyler (657), Upshur (1,780), Wayne (2,741), Webster (442), Wetzel (1,165), Wirt (368), Wood (7,438) and Wyoming (1,823).
On March 28, the DHHR revealed the deaths of a 75-year-old Kanawha County man, a 74-year-old Putnam County woman, and a 71-year-old Logan County woman.
"As many of us are ready for Covid-19 to go away, we must realize it is still spreading in our communities," said Crouch.
The agency on March 27 announced the deaths of an 82-year-old man from Monongalia County, a 78-year-old Berkeley County man, and a 63-year-old Marion County man.
On March 26, the DHHR confirmed the deaths of a 66-year-old Logan County man, a 94-year-old Cabell County man, a 77-year-old Berkeley County man, and a 79-year-old Monongalia County man.
On March 25, the DHHR revealed the deaths of an 85-year-old man from Fayette County, a 70-year-old Kanawha County man, an 80-year-old Wood County woman, a 90-year-old Kanawha County woman, and a 44-year-old Kanawha County man.
West Virginians may pre-register for their Covid-19 vaccination at vaccinate.wv.gov. For a list of testing opportunities, including pharmacy testing, visit https://dhhr.wv.gov/COVID-19/pages/testing.aspx.
• • •
The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department announced Monday there are 13,184 total Covid-19 cases in Kanawha County, an increase of 54 cases since Sunday.
Of those, 11,156 were confirmed cases and 2,028 were probable cases. Active cases were at 585, and recovered cases were at 12,299.
There have been three more deaths, an 89-year-old woman (died Jan. 18) a 94-year-old woman (died Feb. 15) and a 75-year-old man (died March 3), bringing the total number of deaths in Kanawha County to 300.
"We continue our efforts to vaccinate as quickly as possible in order to minimize death and serious illness related to Covid-19," Young said. "Our hearts go out to everyone who has lost a loved one to this disease."
"It's not about a benchmark, it's about them and their families," said Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper. "They, unfortunately in many cases, did not have the opportunity to receive the life-saving vaccine which is now available. Lest, we never forget them."
"As this pandemic has continued for over a year, we have watched this tragedy affect too many lives. My thoughts and prayers go out to each one of the families, friends and loved ones of those who lost their lives to this terrible disease," said Commissioner Ben Salango.
"My thoughts and prayers are with all those who have suffered from Covid-19 and especially for the families of those who have lost dear loved ones to this illness," Commissioner Lance Wheeler said.
"We mourn the loss of each person we've lost in Kanawha County due to this terrible pandemic," Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said. "As we continue to vaccinate our population, we hope these efforts will decrease the loss of life and get us back to some sense of normalcy."
Follow KCHD on Twitter: @KCHealth1.
• • •
On Tuesday, Kanawha County was orange and Fayette County gold on the DHHR's county alert system map.
Kanawha had percent positivity of 5.19 and an infection rate of 26.31, while Fayette's corresponding numbers were 4.23 and 27.96.
Fayette County had 90 Covid-19 cases for the seven-day period through the morning of March 30. There were 301 active cases in Fayette on Monday, March 29.