With coronavirus outbreaks affecting hospitals in Logan and Beckley and a nursing home in Princeton, Gov. Jim Justice is warning about the spread of coronavirus in West Virginia’s rural communities.
“We’ve got three super hotspots that I’m aware of right now,” he said. “As we continue we’ll probably have more outbreaks.”
The prime concern, Justice said, is that outbreaks in surrounding states are contributing to spread in West Virginia.
He warned that West Virginians who travel to hotspots such as Myrtle Beach should be tested and then quarantine until they get results. He hinted that he might decide to make that mandatory.
“This terrible killer is moving from the south,” Justice said Monday during a regular briefing about West Virginia’s coronavirus response.
In Mercer County, the Princeton Health Care Center, which already had dozens of covid cases, had 16 residents hospitalized overnight Sunday, said Bill Crouch, director of the state Department of Health and Human Resources “so we have some real concerns.”
Crouch said three deaths have been associated with the nursing home.
“We have an outbreak there that is very serious,” Crouch said.
More broadly, Mercer County has been one of the state’s most active coronavirus hotspots with 124 active cases, according to DHHR.
In Logan County, a broader outbreak has included confirmed coronavirus cases among employees of Logan Regional Medical Center.
Crouch said 22 staff and five patients have tested positive at the medical center.
“It’s not just the hospital. There’s an outbreak in Logan County that we’re moving to tackle as quickly as possible.”
Logan County has 118 active cases, according to DHHR. The county’s court system announced a shutdown today because of the outbreak.
“It is absolutely ridiculous to have a hundred cases in Logan County,” Justice said.
In Raleigh County, an outbreak has affected Appalachian Regional Healthcare Hospital, where there were 11 active cases as of Monday morning. Some of those employees were nearing the ends of their mandated quarantine periods.
CEO Rocky Massey told MetroNews the community’s coronavirus situation is broader than the medical facility.
“It’s just not the case that there’s an outbreak here at Beckley ARH,” Massey said. “Raleigh County is a hot spot, surrounding counties are even more of a hot spot.”
Raleigh County was listed with 68 active cases this morning.
State officials said the hospitals in Raleigh and Logan counties are still able to help with their communities’ medical needs, despite staff being affected by coronavirus.
“I would say they can still participate in community health” because they have enough staff,” said State Health Officer Ayne Amjad.
Nevertheless, at the Logan and Beckley hospitals “it is the staff getting sick now, not just the patients,” said Clay Marsh, the state coronavirus response coordinator.
Justice said Marsh has been warning for weeks, “Do you realize we are in a transformational situation in which our doctors and nurses can get sick and if we lose them we’ll be decades before we’ll be able to replace that level of care within our state?”
Justice added, “Today, we are very concerned about staff that are getting sick. As those people are sick, we can’t cover for the others.”
The governor, as he said during briefings last week, is worried about increasing numbers of cases in surrounding states like Kentucky and Ohio.
He also warned West Virginia residents to get tested and quarantine if they travel to an out-of-state hotspot, specifically mentioning the popular Myrtle Beach area.
“We have got to have you test yourself, quarantine yourself until those tests come back,” Justice said.
Marsh, speaking this morning on MetroNews “Talkline,” said the spread of the virus is broad now, including in rural areas.
“Those numbers should really make all West Virginia people take notice,” he said.
He much of the growth in West Virginia’s numbers has been because of spread among young people.
“It’s spreading among young people,” he said, citing growth among 18- to 29-year-olds. “The young people are really driving at least a part of this expansion.”
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) August 3, 2020