School opening mulled as virus cases surge

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

As the state Board of Education is scheduled to address resumption of in-person instruction at its Tuesday meeting, Gov. Jim Justice said the state’s map of coronavirus transmission might change again in advance of the planned return to classrooms Jan. 19.

It wouldn’t be the first time the map has changed to accommodate the governor’s fervent desire to get children back in school.

Unhappy with the results from remote learning, the governor’s plan would reopen schools to in-person instruction five days a week for all elementary and middle school students – regardless of what the transmission rate is in any county.

High schools would be ruled by the map but only if their district fell into the most risky category, red. And on Monday, Justice said officials might broaden the orange category, cutting into the lower range of red. Thus, effectively, the map would become a two-tone map – with red limiting high school instruction, all other colors opening up classroom doors.

On Monday, the DHHR showed 42 counties in the red category, ranging from Clay County’s 30.22 cases per 100,000 population on a seven-day rolling average to Barbour County’s 225.92.

Currently, red starts at 25.00.

There are three red counties in the state with a transmission rate below 50 and 24 below 75.0.

The reopening discussion is going on during a time of a holiday surge of cases including hospitalization statistics, active cases and deaths, beginning the middle of November.

On Monday, the Department of Health and Human Resources reported 1,070 cases of Covid-19 on top of Sunday’s 1,582. Over the last two days, the state has added 24 deaths.

Active cases continued to climb, setting a record 2,927 in the Monday report, up nine from the previous record set Sunday.

While hospitalizations fell by five to 755, patients on ventilator-assisted breathing because of Covid set a record of 104, up five from Sunday’s report.

Across The Register-Herald’s nine-county primary market, another 247 cases were confirmed over the past two days – 104 in Raleigh County, 90 in Mercer, 87 in Greenbrier, 44 in Fayette, 30 in Nicholas, 28 in Summers, 25 in Wyoming, 16 in Monroe and 13 in McDowell.

The Monday report by the DHHR included the deaths of two women from Fayette County, an 87-year-old and an 85-year-old. The Sunday report by the DHHR included the deaths of a 74-year-old woman from Raleigh County and a 70-year-old man from McDowell County.

Cases per county: Barbour (1,083), Berkeley (7,538), Boone (1,215), Braxton (632), Brooke (1,643), Cabell (6,066), Calhoun (174), Clay (286), Doddridge (316), Fayette (2,052), Gilmer (494), Grant (879), Greenbrier (1,877), Hampshire (1,164), Hancock (2,173), Hardy (995), Harrison (3,681), Jackson (1,392), Jefferson (2,795), Kanawha (9,776), Lewis (654), Lincoln (947), Logan (1,965), Marion (2,546), Marshall (2,421), Mason (1,218), McDowell (1,091), Mercer (3,508), Mineral (2,259), Mingo (1,656), Monongalia (6,110), Monroe (756), Morgan (781), Nicholas (834), Ohio (2,884), Pendleton (405), Pleasants (690), Pocahontas (419), Preston (2,024), Putnam (3,335), Raleigh (3,323), Randolph (1,565), Ritchie (462), Roane (361), Summers (574), Taylor (846), Tucker (406), Tyler (441), Upshur (1,180), Wayne (1,972), Webster (195), Wetzel (816), Wirt (268), Wood (5,806), and Wyoming (1,333).

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