CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – During his briefing, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice issued an executive order affecting the state’s hospitals.
He is putting a 45-day hold on elective surgeries, involving overnight stays, to prioritize those battling COVID-19.
West Virginia currently has nearly 17,000 active cases with a new record-high of those hospitalized. Nearly 600 people are in the hospital, 162 in ICU units and 76 are on ventilators.
WV COVID-19 Czar, Dr. Clay Marsh said, “after a while, that consumes a lot of the resources of these hospitals and particularly our most sophisticated hospitals in our state and then people who need to come into those hospitals for cancer care, or heart care, or strokes or infections start to have problems finding beds.”
Gov. Justice said people aren’t wearing masks as they should and more positive cases are expected following the Thanksgiving holiday.
“The only thing we all know, the only thing we can possibly have to be able to slow this thing down right now is that mask. That’s all we got,” said Gov. Justice.
The average fatality age is now 77 and up to fifty percent of all fatalities in the state come from long-term care facilities.
West Virginia National Guard Maj. Gen. James Hoyer said, “we’re seeing that it’s not just a bed issue or availability of beds, but it’s also staffing issues and those issues come from community spread.”
West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch said the vaccine will be available very soon.
For those skeptical of the vaccine, Gov. Justice encourages all West Virginians to receive it.
“From the standpoint of people being concerned about taking the vaccine, we have got to depend on people, our FDA, and all the different people who are experts beyond belief,” said Gov. Justice.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) plan to meet Wednesday to establish a national vaccine policy that will determine who gets it first.
Until then, West Virginians are asked to wear a mask and get tested to reduce community spread.
Justice says he and his team are looking to pinpoint counties to slow down the spread of COVID-19, particularly in counties that border other states, including Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Justice also announced during his press conference there may be more stringent matters and restrictions may be coming on Wednesday.