MORGANTOWN — Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch said Monday that the Saving Our Care program launched to help hospitals and nursing homes stay afloat during the Delta surge will cost somewhere from $25 million to $30 million.
“We’re looking at some significant dollars here,” he said in response to a request for an update. They met with hospital leaders on Friday morning and are searching for some ways to to pull down federal dollars. He expected they’ll have a funding methodology for the facilities worked out in the next day or so, if not by the end of Monday.
Gov. Jim Justice announced the program on Sept. 20, saying it will allow facilities to apply for reimbursement for lost revenue and money spent for staffing needs — including contract nursing. Crouch said Monday that contract nursing and overtime are both expensive, and that facilities also have to deal with the challenges of employee retention.
COVID-19 Czar Clay Marsh talked about how much Delta differs from the other COVID-19 strains. He quoted CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, “This is perhaps one of the most infectious respiratory viruses that we have ever seen.”
It’s less selective, Marsh said, and kids are bearing the brunt, with 27% of all new cases appearing in the pediatric age group, and West Virginia in particular has seen a 254% rise in infections in kids up to 18.
On the topic of children, Justice said, “Help us get the kids vaccinated.” As the weather gets colder, chances of exposure rise again. Some kids may not even know they’re infected, but the data shows many will see some level of side effects from it.
In his regular reading of the COVID deaths, Justice took particular note of a 21-year-old man from Braxton County. “This thing is reaching across all of us and we’d really better know that,” he said.
Justice repeated his hope that the state is at or near its Delta surge peak. Active cases fell to 12,284, with 846 new cases since Friday. Hospitalizations, ICU cases and ventilator cases all dipped downward: 913; 271; and 184, respectively.
Justice said he’ll give only one more briefing this week, on Thursday. On Friday he’ll be doing the last Do It For Babydog Part 2 Corvette giveaway in Charleston.