CHARLESTON — During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Jim Justice reported that 252 West Virginians who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 are currently in intensive care units (ICUs); a new record high for the entire pandemic.
This comes exactly one week after the state record for the number of patients on ventilators was broken. Wednesday, that number also continued to increase to never-before-seen levels, with a new all-time high of 132 West Virginians now on ventilators.
West Virginia’s total number of COVID-related hospitalizations has increased to 813; just five away from the all-time record in that category as well. And, as Gov. Justice pointed out Wednesday, there is a common thread between the vast majority of these severe cases.
“Our hospitals are still overwhelmingly inundated with cases of people that are not vaccinated,” Gov. Justice said. “Ninety percent of people in ICUs are unvaccinated. For God’s sake, how difficult is this to understand? What we should be doing is right there in front of us. We just need to use good sense and get ourselves vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, a new report by the health news website statnews.com shows that West Virginia currently has—by far—the highest rate of acceleration of new COVID-19 cases in the country, with 2.69 cases per 100,000 people per week per day; more than 60% higher than the state with the 2nd-highest rate of acceleration.
“What we’re seeing here in West Virginia right now is exactly what we would expect,” State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh said. “The Delta variant has entered that explosive growth phase, where enough people who are unvaccinated are infected that they can infect other people that are largely unvaccinated.
“Just like if you have a big, roaring fire, the fire might start off in a few places, but after awhile, if you have enough dry timber and have too few number of firewalls, that fire can start to consume more and more of the of the forest, and start to join in to create one, raging fire,” Dr. Marsh continued. “That’s exactly what I believe we’re experiencing right now in West Virginia. And, as the Governor has said, the way to generate the firewalls is vaccination. There’s really no other intervention that works as well as that.
“As this variant continues to burn itself out, we predict it may take as much as another five to seven or maybe as many as 10 to 14 days for that to happen.”
“I hope and pray that Dr. Marsh is right that this surge may only last another couple of weeks,” Gov. Justice said. “The problem with that is none of us really know for sure. And if 14 days turns into 10 weeks, just think of the numbers that are going to die.”
The statewide death toll from COVID-19 reached 3,169 on Wednesday, with 21 deaths occurring since his last briefing just two days prior.
The total number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia has now reached 22,215; an increase of over 700 new cases in the past two days.
Meanwhile, the County Alert System map now shows that a whopping 44 of the state’s 55 counties are now in the highest-risk Red category. Another eight counties are one step below in the Orange category.
Gov. Justice reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are currently 68 active outbreaks in 31 counties within the state public school system.
Ten schools and one entire county school system—Clay County—are currently closed due to COVID-19.
As of Wednesday afternoon, a total of 29 county school systems have face covering requirements, 13 counties have criteria for requiring face coverings, and 13 counties do not have face covering requirements.