Hospitals across West Virginia will reduce elective surgeries to ensure there is enough space to accommodate coronavirus patients as the number of cases continues to surge, Gov. Jim Justice said Monday.
Hospitals will be able to maintain their available bed capacities “at this moment,” Justice said at a news conference. “But the worst days are ahead of us.”
The number of people hospitalized with the virus in West Virginia jumped 29% in the past week. There were a record 597 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday, including 162 in intensive care units, according to state health data. That's up from 463 people hospitalized on Nov. 22.
And it's more than doubled since a month ago, when there were 240 virus-related hospitalizations in West Virginia.
Dr. Clay Marsh, the state's coronavirus expert, said each hospital system in the state has been asked to look at delaying non-urgent surgeries over about the next 45 days, particularly those that require an in-patient stay.
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“We still have capacity to take care of people with COVID in our state," Marsh said. However, he added, "We don’t have as many immediately available ICU beds as we may normally see after a Thanksgiving holiday."
The governor also temporarily halted elective surgeries last spring.
While the state has focused on mask wearing and increased testing for the virus, Justice said he is mulling over whether to impose additional restrictions in counties with the highest virus infection rates.
The number of active virus cases statewide has jumped 62% in the past two weeks to 16,788. Monday's daily rate of positive cases was 7.07%, the highest since April 18.
The state has reported at least 735 virus-related deaths, including six on Monday.
The virus usually results in only mild to moderate symptoms, but is particularly dangerous for the elderly and people with other health problems.
Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.