CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Governor Jim Justice is once again urging West Virginians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the state continues to break record numbers of hospitalizations related to the virus.
“We gotta step up, and we gotta step up right now and we gotta help our people,” Justice said.
The governor cited the state’s continually increasing numbers of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and patients on a ventilator as a point of concern. He said health officials in the state are concerned that health care facilities are on the verge of being overrun due to the rising hospitalizations and, the main problem they are facing, staffing shortages.
“By overrun, I mean that we could awaken to a situation where we’re basically rationing care,” Justice said. “Now, we’re not there at this moment, but we should all realize that we’re in a point in time where we’re reaching a crisis.”
In the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources daily COVID-19 dashboard update for today, Sept. 20, 2021, health officials report 961 West Virginians are currently hospitalized with the virus. Of those patients, 287 are in the ICU and 160 are on ventilators. For the hospitalizations, 961 is an all-time pandemic record for the Mountain State and the eighth day in a row that the state has broken the previous record.
In an attempt to help prevent hospitals from reaching a crisis situation, Justice says state health officials are branching out from the “Save Our Wisdom” initiative with a new “Save Our Care” focusing on hospitals and nursing homes, especially if they reach a point of closing some departments such as elective surgeries. State officials say the new initiative would help protect the economics of the hospital by providing an opportunity for reimbursement.
Justice says the state will be creating a task force to review these facilities for reimbursements. He says the main goal is to help underwrite lost expenses, provide additional funding and keep the facilities running as smoothly as possible to provide care for West Virginians. As far as what will be approved for reimbursement, West Virginia Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh says the task force will work closely with the facilities, which will submit their requests to the WV DHHR.
Marsh says the state will provide more details on the program in an upcoming briefing.
“We are moving again right now to ensure the safety of our people. That’s the bottom line,” Justice said. “But we’re also moving to ensure the safety of institutions that do incredible work, our hospitals, our nursing homes, those folks that are really on the frontlines really helping us.”
The governor is also encouraging facilities to give state officials feedback on what they can do to help financially, with staffing or with anything needed to get them through the peak of the current wave.
“We think we’re at the peak, and if we’re at the peak, if we can make this another four to six weeks, or maybe only two to three, things will get a lot better,” Justice said.
According to Justice, the funding for these reimbursement comes from the leftover CARES Act money and American Rescue Plan dollars.
Justice says state health officials believe the state may be hitting the peak of the current wave of COVID-19. Health officials said one sign of a potential peak would be a drop in active cases. Today, 21,490 cases are currently active. After hitting a record-setting pandemic high of 29,744 active cases on Thursday, Sept. 16, the state’s active cases have dropped steadily over the weekend. Health officials also say a total of 199,521 West Virginians have now recovered from COVID-19.