Coronavirus death toll continues to climb in West Virginia

FILE - In this March 12, 2020, file photo, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice speaks during a news conference at the State Capitol in Charleston, W.Va. Justice said that 745 of the record 893 people hospitalized, or 85%, for the coronavirus on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, are unvaccinated. “If you have chosen to be unvaccinated, in my opinion, it was a bad choice,” Justice said.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The death toll continues to surge from the coronavirus pandemic in West Virginia, according to health data released Friday.

There were at least 115 new virus deaths reported during the first seven days of October, according to the state's coronavirus dashboard. It follows a September toll of about 600 deaths — more than the four previous months combined.

The state is on pace to surpass 4,000 total deaths from the pandemic next week.

On Sept. 21, state officials warned that a surge in deaths from the delta variant of the virus would last up to six weeks. But there are signs in other areas that the surge is slowing down.

According to health data, the number of people hospitalized from the virus dropped to 839 Friday, the lowest total in a month. There were 238 people in hospital intensive care units, down from a record 296 on Sept. 29. And the 157 COVID-19 patients on ventilators was the lowest since Sept. 19.

Active cases statewide have gone up slightly in the past few days after dipping to 11,331 on Tuesday, the lowest since late August.

Gov. Jim Justice said Thursday that improving numbers "leads us to absolutely believe wholeheartedly that we have passed through the eye of the storm.”

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