BUCKHANNON — St. Joseph’s Hospital in Buckhannon is providing information to the public as COVID infections increase in Upshur County and West Virginia, primarily due to the delta variant. On Tuesday, Dr. Clay Marsh, vice president for health sciences at West Virginia University and state COVID-19 czar, said the latest data shows that at least 91% of all new COVID-19 cases are from the more virulent delta variant, with active cases increasing by more than 1,000 in the past week, to 3,372. He also stated that the state has also seen a four-fold increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
To protect yourself from the virus, vaccination is the best course of action. The COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death. Vaccines are available through your primary care provider and at local pharmacies. Vaccinated people can also spread the virus to others so avoiding close contact with those who are sick, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, washing your hands with soap and water and wearing a mask indoors are additional steps you can take to help stop the spread of this highly contagious strain of COVID-19.
If you have questions about illnesses, respiratory symptoms, or infection from COVID-19, St. Joseph’s Hospital has a Nurse Triage Line. The phone number is 304-473-2161 and is staffed Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4:30 pm.
If you think you may have been exposed, free testing for COVID is available at the drive-through trailer set up outside of the hospital. You do not need a doctor’s order, however if you have an order from your provider, you may receive your results more quickly. Currently the testing trailer is open Monday through Friday from 7 am to 3 pm and on Saturdays from 8 am to noon. Patients needing testing are asked to go directly to the trailer and not enter the hospital. Other testing locations are available in Upshur County, for more information on testing sites, go to the “Free COVID-19 Testing” tab on the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ website, www.dhhr.wv.gov/COVID-19.
St. Joseph’s Hospital also provides monoclonal antibody Infusions which can provide relief to some patients with COVID-19, using a neutralizing antibody drug to help limit the amount of COVID-19 virus in your body. The drug is administered through an intravenous (IV) infusion, meaning the drug goes directly into your bloodstream. The treatment takes about 3 hours and is only needed once. Patients who have had the infusion report much quicker recovery times with significant improvement in their symptoms. If you have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19, contact your provider to see if you are eligible for this treatment. This treatment can help speed your recovery and keep you from needing to be admitted to the hospital.
At St. Joseph’s Hospital and all WVU Medicine Hospitals and Clinics, all patients and visitors above the age of two must wear a mask at all times and will be screened upon entering the facility. For more information on COVID-related efforts at WVU Medicine, including patient and visitor guidelines, visit WVUMedicine.org/COVID.