West Virginia set two new records in the past week for daily COVID-19 cases, as Republican Governor Jim Justice warned the state remains “overwhelmingly inundated” with hospitalized patients.
On Saturday, West Virginia recorded 1,821 new coronavirus cases, reaching an all-time high for daily infections. That tally surpassed a record that was set just three days earlier, when the state recorded 1,738 new cases, the Associated Press reported. Prior to both days, the highest number of daily positive cases in West Virginia was just over 1,700 on December 31.
By Saturday, West Virginia’s health department tallied a total of 7,849 new cases over the past six days, which already passed the seven-day total from the previous week. Across the state, the number of active coronavirus cases has more than doubled in the past three weeks, jumping up to 22,000, according to the AP.
Earlier this week, Justice said the state’s hospitals remain “overwhelmingly inundated” with new COVID patients. On Friday, the governor’s office said coronavirus hospitalizations matched an all-time high throughout the pandemic, with 818 people receiving medical care. Of those, 252 patients are in the ICU and record-breaking 152 are on ventilators.
“Back when we started down this pathway with the Delta variant, I came to you and said that we really needed to buckle up, because this thing could run rampant all across our state,” Justice said during a Friday press briefing. “Well it surely has.”
West Virginia’s coronavirus czar, Dr. Clay Marsh, said that 90 percent of ICU patients and 91 to 93 percent of those on ventilators, are not vaccinated. In total, 85 percent of all patients hospitalized with COVID-19 have not received the shot.
“We’ve reached that level of hospital bed capacity, taken up by people infected with COVID-19, about 100 days quicker than we did during our last surge in December 2020,” Dr. Marsh said during a press briefing.
“We can see that more West Virginians are dying now. About six weeks ago, we were averaging about six deaths a week. This week we are already over 60,” he added. As of Friday, the governor’s office said that 43 of the state’s 55 counties are now in the highest-risk category for new infections.
West Virginia currently has the lowest vaccination rate of adults in the U.S., with just under 48 percent of its population 18 and older fully vaccinated, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
“I’ve told you over and over and over that the only way in the world, the only weapon that we have to fight back with, is the vaccinations,” Justice said during a press conference earlier this week, Newsweek reported.
“The vaccine can’t hurt you for crying out loud, so why not take it,” he added.