Covid-19 is attacking Hampshire County’s youth like never before.
Of the 122 new cases reported here in the last 7 days, nearly a 3rd — 40 — of them were people age 20 or younger.
Thirteen cases alone were reported in children age 12 to 15. Nearly a dozen 5- to 11-year-olds are ill with the virus.
In comparison, only 31 cases were reported in people over age 60, generally considered the most vulnerable population, but also the most vaccinated.
Health Director Tamitha Wilkins on Tuesday pleaded with parents to take a child’s illness seriously.
“We really, really need families to understand that if they have any school-age children in their home that have been sent home because they’re sick or been tested, that family needs to quarantine and not be going out,” Wilkins said. “If they are home to quarantine, they need to stay home to quarantine even if they feel good.”
She said her department is advising students who have tested positive to not participate in extra-curricular activities.
“We cannot mandate that,” Wilkins acknowledged. “If they’re quarantined, that should mean everything.”
Cases reverse-correlate with vaccinations. The higher the percentage of an age group vaccinated, the fewer cases reported.
Hampshire County Health Department reported 88 active cases Monday with 7 people hospitalized from the disease that attacks the lower respiratory function.
The county has seen 15 to 20 new cases every day since Aug. 31, although that dropped to 7 Monday, Labor Day. Testing has increased to about 120 a day, spiking at 165 last Friday and 152 more Saturday.
And as cases and testing trend upward, vaccination numbers are pushing up also.
As of Monday, 38.7% of Hampshire County residents 12 or older have been fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in the state. At least 1 dose has been administered to 43.2% of the eligible residents.
Hampshire County’s oldest population, people age 71 or older, is the most vaccinated, but that total is still less than 2/3 of them, 65.2%.
The Health Department said Monday that 2 outbreaks have occurred, as defined by the state, but declined to identify where they are taking place.
Hampshire’s numbers parallel the state’s, where 39 of the 55 counties were red on the state’s 5-color tracking map Tuesday morning. Another 14 were orange, 1 was gold and Tucker was yellow.
“If you’re not vaccinated, you’re taking one hell of a chance,” Gov. Jim Justice said Friday. “I don’t know how many times we’re going to have to say it, but there is nothing in your life as important right now as getting vaccinated. Nothing.”
The number of West Virginians on ventilators hit 111 Friday, a high for the pandemic.
“We’re putting significant stress on our hospitals and our healthcare system, and we need to address this right now,” Retired Major General Jim Hoyer, now the director of the state’s Joint Interagency Task Force on COVID-19, said.