CHARLESTON — The COVID hospitalization numbers in the state keep growing, hitting 647 Tuesday as officials again warn of patient care capacity.
“Our death rate and hospitalization rate are going to be out of control,” said Retired Maj. Gen. James Hoyer during Gov. Jim Justice’s pandemic briefing Monday.
Of those 647, 202 were in ICUs, with both numbers reaching levels last seen during the January surge, and 102 were currently on a vent. The peak of COVID hospitalizations was 818 on Jan. 5 with the most in ICUs hitting 219 on Jan. 6.
“A couple of hospitals have already reduced elective surgeries,” he said, referring to a move to maximize beds and personnel.
Hoyer, who is director of the state Joint inter-Agency Vaccine Task Force, said state officials are working closely with hospitals from around the state to “make sure we have the resources” for those in most need.
“Unvaccinated people are taking up vital space in hospitals that impact other people’s health care,” he said.
The state had 17,664 active COVID cases as of Thursday.
Justice reminded that being vaccinated is the solution, “More people will die until more people are vaccinated,” he said. As of Thursday, 50.9 percent of the state was fully vaccinated.
Princeton Community Hospital President and CEO Karen Bowling said recently that the hospital currently has no issue taking care of all patients.
“Like all hospitals throughout West Virginia, Princeton Community Hospital has experienced an increase in COVIDpositive patients in both the ICU and inpatient population, but we are able to continue to offer quality care for our patients,” she said. “Some of the patients that present to the ER and are COVID-positive, do not require hospitalization. Rather, they receive appropriate treatment and are sent home to quarantine.”
Bowling said as of now “there is no need for PCH to stop elective surgeries. We will continue to evaluate the circumstances as the situation evolves.”
She also stressed the importance of vaccinations.
“The majority of our COVID-positive patients have not been vaccinated,” she said. “I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone that community vaccination is the key to bringing an end to this pandemic. If you are vaccine hesitant, I ask you to seriously research the matter with an open mind. You will find the vaccines are safe, effective, and scientifically sound. The vaccines were developed to help reduce hospitalization and death. In order for them to be fully effective, the majority of the population should be vaccinated. If unvaccinated, please receive the vaccine as soon as possible.”
Bowling also said that, independent of vaccination status, everyone should continue to wear a mask in public, practice social distancing, and practice good hand hygiene.
“If you suspect you have been exposed to COVID-19, please contact your family doctor or the Mercer County Health Department to be tested.” she said. “With COVID-19 cases on the rise, we kindly ask that you see your primary care provider for minor healthcare issues and routine testing, so that our ERs may more efficiently treat those with urgent medical needs. However, you should not delay coming to the Princeton or Bluefield ERs when an urgent need arises. We are fully prepared and capable of providing acute emergency care for you and your family.”
Princeton Community Hospital and PCH Bluefield’s greatest priority during the COVID-19 pandemic is to provide the best possible care while protecting the health and well-being of all patients and employees, she added.
— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline. com