CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice was encouraged Wednesday by what he initially thought was a recent drop in confirmed statewide cases of the coronavirus. But the cautious optimism was short-lived.
The number of positive cases in the state has doubled in the past month. Twice this month the daily confirmed cases in the rural state surpassed 170. So Justice had reason for hope when he announced an increase of just 30 positive cases Tuesday.
"I always am a believer that one robin doesn't make spring," Justice said at a news conference. "This is more like one robin right now. We'll go and we'll watch these numbers for a few more days."
But state health statistics released after the governor spoke proved there's a lot of work left to do. Tuesday's figure was revised upward later to 141, and the three-day total so far this week of 324 confirmed cases meant the virus scare isn't slowing down.
Wednesday's number of active confirmed cases, 1,594, was the highest since the pandemic began.
There have been more than 5,460 total confirmed cases and at least 102 deaths in West Virginia.
Justice said there currently are virus outbreaks involving churches in at least eight counties: Boone, Grant, Logan, Mason Kanawha, Raleigh, Taylor and Wood.
The governor on July 6 issued an executive order mandating face coverings when people are inside buildings, although he has declined to impose a penalty for noncompliance.
Last week, the governor ordered a 10-day closure of bars in Monongalia County, which includes the West Virginia University campus. The county has had at least 775 positive virus cases, by far the most in the state.
Justice said a decision is expected Thursday on whether to extend the bar closure order.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.