The improving conditions that sent Hampshire High School back to class Tuesday for the 1st time in 3 months are breathing relief into a healthcare system strained for 11 months by Covid-19.

 Vaccines were administered to 319 county residents last week by the Health Department and its partners Hampshire Memorial Hospital, E.A. Hawse, and the county’s EMS and Office of Emergency Management.

As that number climbs, other vital statistics surrounding the virus are dropping.

Just 4 cases were confirmed Monday, bringing the county’s active total to 33. That’s the lowest active caseload since the 1st week of November. Four people are hospitalized.

The net effect has been to move the county from red to orange status on the state’s 5-color map tracking the virus.

The county’s infection rate — the number of positive cases per 100,000 population — dropped from 25.89 on Saturday to 16.03 on Sunday, well below the red threshold of 25.

The positivity rate — the percentage of tests that indicate the virus — fell past the red threshold of 8 percent as well, dropping from 8.25 on Saturday to 5.86 Sunday.

The numbers continued to improve Monday and Tuesday.

Since the pandemic erupted last March, Hampshire County has had 1,515 confirmed cases and 27 deaths.

The County Health Department confirmed 2 deaths over the weekend, bringing its total in line with a number the state had posted for a week.

“The death count has increased by 2 due to the state determining 2 deaths to be considered Covid-related,” the Health Department posted on Facebook Saturday. “The deaths were not reported to the local health department.”

They were a 75-year-old man from Rio who died on Dec. 21 and a 95-year-old woman from Romney who died on Christmas Eve.

Another Covid-related death with Hampshire ties occurred Saturday when 1990 HHS grad Delmar Dean Jr. lost his months-long battle with the disease in the Northern Panhandle

Dean was the 2nd state correctional officer to die from the disease.

Gov. Jim Justice announced Dean’s death Monday, a somber note amid good news statewide in the battle against Covid-19.

The number of active cases in West Virginia has declined for 30 straight days as 391,186 doses of vaccine have been administered in clinics being held in all 55 counties of the Mountain State.

West Virginia continues to lead the nation in the percentage of vaccine received that has been administered.

The statewide registration system for the vaccine has been used by more than 250,000 people.

“We need you to continue to pre-register,” Justice implored. Vaccines are available to any West Virginian age 65 or older.

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