Virus Cases, Hospitalizations Surge In West Virginia

A computer rendering of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Active coronavirus cases skyrocketed 72 percent in West Virginia and hospitalizations surged over the past week as the omicron variant started to take a firm hold in the state.

There were 11,138 confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide last week, shattering the one-week record of 9,587 set in mid-September, according to the Department of Health and Human Resources’ dashboard. The state surpassed 2,000 positive cases for the first time, doing so on three consecutive days, including a record 2,564 on Friday.

Active cases reached 15,015 on Sunday and have more than doubled since Dec. 24. It’s the highest total since September, when cases surged to a record of nearly 30,000.

The number of people hospitalized for the virus in West Virginia hit 721 on Monday, the highest since mid-October. The figure is up 29 percent since Christmas.

Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s coronavirus expert, said last week that the spread of the omicron variant lagged behind the rest of the nation with the variant detected in about 15 percent of West Virginia cases.

Gov. Jim Justice had warned that the latest surge could overrun hospitals. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 81 percent of intensive-care unit beds statewide are in use, including 31 percent for COVID-19 patients.

The West Virginia Hospital Association has said that the high number of COVID-19 patients combined with hospital visits for trauma, flu and other patients “has strained the health care system, and now after nearly two years, the system is nearing a breaking point as health care workers are mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted.”

Justice has implored state residents to get vaccinated for the virus, including booster shots. About half of the state’s population is fully vaccinated and 61% have received at least one dose, according to state health officials.