CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia set a pandemic record Wednesday for the number of residents hospitalized for the coronavirus.
COVID-19 daily hospitalizations hit 1,043, breaking the mark of 1,012 set on Sept. 24, according to state health figures. The number of virus patients in the hospital have increased 52% over the past two months.
“We are very, very worried that our hospital numbers have not come close to peaking yet,” Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s coronavirus expert, said during a COVID-19 briefing. “And we are trying to do all that we can to reduce that surge. But that’s why we call on all of our citizens right now to please make sure that you vaccinated.”
“Right now, really, really important for people to take extra precautions because we are seeing a surge in our hospitals greater than we’ve ever seen before,” Marsh said.
Confirmed coronavirus cases in West Virginia have surpassed 22,000 in each of the past two weeks, the two highest on record during the pandemic.
The number of virus patients in hospital intensive care units and those on ventilators remain far below the records set in September. But overall, 83% of West Virginia’s ICU beds are in use, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The West Virginia National Guard is training hundreds of its members to assist understaffed hospitals. James Hoyer, director of the state’s joint interagency task force, said Wednesday the National Guard has received requests for help from 29 facilities, including one long-term care facility.
The percentage of fully vaccinated residents has changed little since Gov. Jim Justice announced Jan. 11 that he had a moderate case of the virus. He has since recovered. Hoyer said only 51% of residents age 50 and older and about 57% of those age 65 and above had received their virus booster shots.