CHARLESTON — Following Gov. Jim Justice’s Breakfast Roundtable Summit with his Pandemic Leadership Team Monday morning at the Governor’s Mansion in Charleston, Gov. Justice announced during his COVID-19 briefing that the State will be implementing a new initiative called “Saving Our Care” to ensure the stability of hospitals and nursing homes as the current surge in cases brought on by the Delta variant begins to peak.
“Our hospitals are on the verge of being overrun to the point where, if we don’t act right now, we could awaken to a situation where we’re basically rationing care,” Gov. Justice said. “Now we’re not there right at this moment. But we should all realize that we are now at a point in time where we are reaching a crisis.”
“So, just like when we started our ‘Saving Our Wisdom’ effort, we are now going to spin off that and start a new initiative called ‘Saving Our Care,’” Gov. Justice continued. “We’re going to make every effort in the world to avoid getting to the point where we are talking about rationing care.”
According to a news release from the governor’s office, Saving Our Care will provide staffing assistance and financial help to hospitals and long-term care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living facilities to keep workforce levels up. The program will also provide financial assistance to hospitals that have to defer elective procedures.
“As we approach and pass the peak of this surge, our hospitals are being taxed to the limit,” Gov. Justice said. “If they need to start eliminating elective surgeries, and we do nothing, that would really destroy the economics of our hospitals.”
The initiative will also include 24/7 monitoring and communication with hospital leaders, including a statewide monitoring system for all hospitals and long-term care facilities.
“We’ve got the dollars available,” Gov. Justice said. “And if we get to the point where we have exhausted those dollars, we’ll surely call the Legislature back in and get approval to do even more.”
The Governor added that with case numbers now on the decline for the first time in months, and with hospitalizations and deaths expected to soon begin decreasing as well, he hopes the Saving Our Care initiative will only need to be in place for the next three to six weeks, the news release further stated.
“I think the Governor’s commitment to support those facilities, so not only can we take care of all people with COVID-19, but as the Governor said, it’s also important that we have our hospital beds available for people with strokes, heart attacks, motor vehicle accidents, and bad infections, because when when hospitals get overwhelmed, then those elements start to suffer too,” State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh said. “We’ve seen two states in the country – Idaho and Alaska – that have rationed care, and we certainly, as a leadership group, and certainly under the Governor’s direction, we are committed to making sure that will not happen here in West Virginia.”
Meanwhile Monday, Gov. Justice announced that, for the first time in two-and-a-half months, West Virginia has seen a significant decline in the number of active cases of COVID-19 statewide.
There are now 21,490 active cases; down more than 8,200 (27.8%) cases in just three days since the Governor’s previous briefing on Friday last week.
“We just drifted down over the weekend. It is showing us every sign that we’re passing the peak of this surge,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re not through this yet. But nevertheless, we’ll take it.”
West Virginia also saw small decreases in the number of hospitalizations (955; down from a peak of 957 on Sunday) and the number of patients on ventilators (164; down from a peak of 168 on Friday). The state did set a new record high number of patients in ICUs with 292, however this number only surpassed the previous peak by one.
“We’re close to that peak today,” West Virginia Joint Interagency Task Force Director Jim Hoyer said. “But what people need to understand is that our historic data shows us – not just in West Virginia, but nationally – after you hit that peak of cases, you still have somewhere between two to four, and maybe even six weeks of hospitalization increases and death increases. So we’ve got to be cognizant of that fact.”
The statewide death toll from COVID-19 reached 3,424 on Monday, with 54 more deaths being reported since the Governor’s previous briefing on Friday last week.
Over 82% of West Virginians who are hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated and over 87% of those in ICUs and on ventilators due to COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
“If you will just get vaccinated, you can’t imagine the protection level that you have,” Gov. Justice said. “We continue to preach the same message about getting vaccinated because it’s the only tool in the toolbox that we have right now.”
Meanwhile, the County Alert System map now shows that 52 of the state’s 55 counties are now in either the highest-risk Red category or one step below in the Orange category. Mason County was noted as Red on the map on Monday.
Information provided by the office of Gov. Jim Justice.