MORGANTOWN – The numbers grow ever worse. The message remains the same.
“If you’re not vaccinated you’re taking one hell of a chance, that’s all there is to it,” Gov. Jim Justice said during his Friday COVID-19 briefing.
Active cases climbed by 2,075 since Wednesday, to 19,397; 5,809 were breakthrough cases of folks who’ve been vaccinated. There were 714 hospitalized with 111 on ventilators – an all-time high for ventilator patients.
One of the breakthrough cases, Justice said, was the captain of his protective detail, who not only been vaccinated but had also received a booster. Justice and the captain traveled together all day Thursday distributing Do It For Babydog prizes. That made three to four of his 12-member detail who’ve tested positive.
Joint Interagency Task Force Director Gen. James Hoyer said, “People are going to the hospital faster, they’re sicker and they’re getting younger.” And 82% of them are unvaccinated. Some hospitals are already having to manage surgeries and other care in order to handle COVID patients. “We’re putting significant stress on our hospitals and our health care system.”
Answering a question, he agreed with a University of Washington projection that by Sept. 26, the state could see 1,536 hospitalized with COVID, and 510 of them in ICUs.
That’s why they’re working directly with hospitals to manage care and resources. “The more West Virginians we get vaccinated the better chance we have of turning that trend around,” he said.
Still no statewide mask order, though. “I think we are still on hold as far as making any mandates,” Justice said. He was asked about a mask order for middle schools, where students range in age from 11 to 13, and the 11-year-olds can’t get vaccinated.
He said he’s been stressing local control and 30 of 55 counties have mask mandates, but they need to revisit the middle school idea.
Public Health Commissioner Ayne Amjad said because the state is seeing high rates of community transmission, health departments are only contacting people if they test positive, and they’re limiting contact tracing to immediate family because of limited staffing.
People who test positive should take the initiative to contact those they’ve been in close contact with during the prior two days, she said.
Justice commented on the beginning of football season, saying he enjoyed watching a game on TV and seeing the fans in the stands “enjoying some level of normalcy. … We hope and pray we’ll be able to enjoy the games throughout the season.”