W.Va. coronavirus patients: 363 at home, 79 in hospital

West Virginia’s coronavirus response coordinator, Clay Marsh, today gave a clearer picture of how and where patients are being treated.

Of 504 cases confirmed by local health departments, he said, 442 remain active.

Of the 442, the majority are in home isolation — 363. That is 82 percent.

The rest, 79 patients, have needed to be treated in the hospital.

Of those, 26 are in intensive care units on ventilators.

And 13 are in the ICU but not on ventilators.

Forty patients are hospitalized but not in ICU, he said.

And then 57 are considered recovered — although what that means is more difficult to define than it might seem at first glance.

Clay Marsh

“That is a challenging definition,” Marsh said, indicating it represents people who have left followup by the county health officer.

Five West Virginians had died of coronavirus-related illness through today.

He said the data was obtained through members of the National Guard reaching out county by county to collect it.

“Depending on where you are getting this information reported from, there may be some subtle differences in some of the numbers,” Marsh said.

“But we wanted to get this out so people could see this and could benefit from understanding this.”

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which produces a widely cited coronavirus model, says West Virginia has a few more than 3,000 beds available, including 196 in intensive care units.

Marsh said residents are doing well with social distancing guidelines, and he implored them to keep it up.

“We’re doing really well, and our peak date of the covid surge is predicted to be on April 15. Our projected mortality rate has gone down. We have done a great job as a state of flattening the curve,” he said.

On MetroNews’ “Talkline ” earlier today, Marsh described new research that indicates the infection rate for this type of coronavirus is higher than originally believed.

That refers to a figure called the basic reproduction number.

“Instead of one person infecting two or two and a half, one person could infect almost six people,” he said.

That means West Virginia and other parts of the country need to continue to be cautious, Marsh said.

“We can’t let up.”

Terrance Reidy

Also speaking on “Talkline” today, health officer Terrance Reidy described limited success in social distancing.

“Not nearly successful enough,” said Reidy, the health officer for Jefferson, Berkeley and Morgan counties.

“Here, the stores are packed, even with executive orders — people aren’t heeding that. The main way to stop the crowds is for people to stop the crowding.”

With some people carrying the virus and not showing symptoms, Reidy said the best approach is to just stay away from each other

“If you’re within a crowd, you should look at every other person as if they have a concealed weapon or a bomb on them,” he said.

He expressed concern that the medical system could be overwhelmed.

“To me, if the peak is delayed, that’s wonderful. It means we’ve slowed the spread,” Reidy said.

“It’s sort of like 20 inches of rain in one day or 20 inches of rain in two months are different things.”

Gov. Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice, speaking at a briefing today, urged West Virginians to continue taking the health threat seriously.

“I’m telling you, our people, I’m telling all of us,” he said. “Just remember this: We are the highest risk state in the country, the highest risk state of all. We have the people who are the most susceptible.”

He used every metaphor that came to mind to emphasize that point.

“Don’t go to sleep at the switch. Stay the course. Let’s all run across this finish line together.”

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