COVID continues to cause chaos


BUCKHANNON — With the current state map showing most of West Virginia in the red, COVID-19 continues to cause chaos in local schools and hospitals.

The virus has reared its ugly head and returned with a vengeance in the beautiful Mountain State recently. Many department heads are extremely overwhelmed with case numbers soaring and vaccination numbers slowly rising. After the most updated numbers were posted, officials are scrambling to plan the best and safest way to attempt to remain in a “normal” way of life.

Many hospitals have been struggling with bed space due to the massive increase in COVID-related admissions. Skip Gjolberg, President of St. Joseph’s Hospital, took time to explain some of the current numbers and express what he believes is the best advice from healthcare professionals.

“Today in WVUHS Medicine Epic facilities, we have 312 COVID patients admitted—247 were unvaccinated. In our ICUs, we have 88 patients admitted—79 were unvaccinated. And we have 48 patients on ventilators—45 were unvaccinated. This is a disease of the unvaccinated. Please get vaccinated,” urged Gjolberg.

The number of vaccinated individuals has increased; however, not at the rate that professionals would prefer.

Currently in St. Joseph’s hospital, there are at least four patients in the Critical Care Unit battling COVID, two of whom are on full ventilators, two patients are on the floor in med surge, and there are a few who are reportedly receiving oxygen or assistance with breathing. The hospital has no beds available in the CCU and they are struggling to manage the influx by trying to maintain a few open beds for emergencies. If it is not an emergency and the hospital can be avoided, try and do so to alleviate a future wait due to capacity. The best option is to visit a primary care physician, according to healthcare administrators.

Other health professionals affected by this surge are first responders, specifically EMS. Upshur County EMS has received an influx of calls that are COVID-19 related and the entirety of the department has continued to remain proactive.

“During every call, our staff is donning full Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), which includes gowns, gloves, N95 masks, and more. After every call, the ambulances are completely sanitized to help prevent cross-contamination,” said an Upshur County paramedic.

While the healthcare field is being affected, many other areas are still of great concern. The Upshur County Board of Education is working to try and keep all the students and staff safe, while keeping the school doors open for in-person learning. Surrounding counties have had to close schools for cleanings after outbreaks and the fate of Upshur County is still in the air. As of Wednesday, September 15, Upshur County is still in the red with 544 active cases.

As of 2 p.m. on September 15, the following numbers and correlating schools are being affected.

Buckhannon Academy Elementary School with 28 positive cases of COVID-19, Buckhannon-Upshur High School with 33, Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School with 14, Fred Eberle Technical Center with 2, French Creek Elementary School with 5, Hodgesville Elementary School with 1, Rock Cave Elementary School with 2, Tennerton Elementary School with 4, Washington District Elementary School with 1, and 2 other reports within the Upshur County School system.

Currently in West Virginia, there are over 25,000 active cases, bringing the total number of positive cases to date to almost 215,000. At least 64.4% of the state’s population have reportedly received at least one dose of the vaccine and over 50% of the population has been fully vaccinated. Vaccinations and testing are still being made available by the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department. The following events will be located at the health department: Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. will be drive-thru COVID testing, and third doses of vaccinations will be given 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. will be designated for first doses of COVID vaccines to be administered. Drive-thru COVID testing will be available on Thursdays 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., second doses of COVID vaccines will be available. If you are wanting a COVID-19 vaccine, please call (304) 472-2810 to schedule an appointment.

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