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Officials Say Delta Has Peaked In W.Va. As Governor Pledges Help for Health Providers Amid Surge

Clay Marsh.jpg
WV Governor's Office
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West Virginia's Coronavirus Czar Clay Marsh speaks at a virtual press briefing with Gov. Jim Justice on Oct. 23, 2020.

A decline in new COVID-19 cases over the weekend suggests West Virginia has reached its peak of the delta surge.

Almost 30,000 people in West Virginia had active infections of COVID-19 last Thursday. But since then, active cases have fallen 28 percent.

“We will see that decline in active cases ...very, very, very quickly, if this follows what has happened everywhere else,” said Gov. Jim Justice at Monday’s media briefing.

But state officials say COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths will continue to rise for two to six weeks. These serious impacts of COVID-19 naturally lag behind new cases.

This means that hospitals already operating at “crisis levels” will only see more COVID-19 patients.

“We are operating on a very fragile precipice,” said coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh.

The fear, health official say, is that healthcare providers would have to ration care at some point, as is happening in Idaho and Alaska. Rationing happens when healthcare providers that are strapped for beds or staffing have to decide which patients can get certain treatment. In dire circumstances, this could mean providing treatment based on how likely the patient is to survive.

“We have committed that that won’t happen in West Virginia,” said retired Maj. Gen. Jim Hoyer.

Individual hospitals are considering delaying elective surgeries to focus on the influx of COVID-19 and other patients coming to the emergency room. But elective surgeries can make up much needed revenue for hospitals.

To offset that financial burden, the state has promised to reimburse hospitals that forgo providing these elective surgeries or hire more contract staff. Justice is calling this offer “Save Our Care,” a play off of the state’s earlier goal to “Save Our Wisdom” by getting vaccines to West Virginia's eldest.

"We applaud the actions taken today by Gov. Justice and the COVID-19 pandemic leadership team to create a task force to provide much needed support to hospitals and long-term care facilities," wrote Jim Kaufman, president of the West Virginia Hospital Association in a news release.

Some health departments, like the one in Charleston, are also offering monoclonal antibodies on site to prevent those with COVID-19 from going to the hospital. This treatment is best suited for those who have recently contracted the virus and have yet to develop an acute illness.


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