CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Governor Jim Justice says $48 million in CARES Act funding will go toward helping increase the number of nurses working in the state.

Justice said the funding will go toward West Virginia’s nursing institutions, including at Concord College, Glenville State College and Bridge Valley Community and Technical College to train and teach new nurses and help reverse the state’s nursing shortage.

“We’re going to aggressively recruit and we’re going to aggressively staff and make every effort to train more and more nurses in the state of West Virginia,” Justice said. “We’re going to flood West Virginia with quality, great nurses.”

The governor says last year alone, 1,700 West Virginia nurses did not renew their licenses, and 68% of those said their reasoning is they were tired and pushed to the limit.

Officials say a new program will be opened at Concord College, Glenville State College will open a new joint program with Marshall University and Bridge Valley Community and Technical College’s program will be expanded.

Justice says the decision is also partially in response to the West Virginia Hospital Associaton’s statement that in addition to the increased number of COVID-19 patients, the state is also seeing patients with other medical needs such as the flu, heart diseases, cancer and trauma that require patients to be hospitalized.

The state is currently reporting 605 West Virginians are hospitalized with COVID-19 and 208 of those patients are in the ICU and 114 are on ventilators. The WV Hospital Association also said in its statement that the national shortage of monoclonal antibodies has restricted access to an effective treatment option.

“Now after nearly two years, the system is nearing a breaking point as healthcare workers are mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted,” Justice quoted the WV Hospital Association.