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17 Covid-related Deaths at Ruby Hospital in One Weekend

The number of new daily Covid-19 cases in West Virginia continues to slowly decline.  DHHR reported 9,033 active cases as of yesterday, down from over 25,000 a month ago.

Hospitalizations are also beginning to drop, down to 746 yesterday, compared with over one-thousand last month.

However, we are not out of the woods yet.  Consider the news out of  J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown over the weekend.   Seventeen individuals died from complications of Covid-19.

WVU Medicine reports 15 of the individuals who died were not vaccinated. One had been vaccinated and officials were uncertain about the 17th. The youngest was 21, while the oldest was in their seventies. Five of those who died were only in their fifties.

According to DHHR figures, 4,134 West Virginians have died from Covid.

Of course, behind these statistics are real people, men and women with families, friends, careers, memories and, for the younger victims, still hopes and dreams for the future.

Dr. Alison Wilson, who leads Ruby Hospital’s ICU, Critical Care and Trauma Institute, said on Talkline Monday she is confident that many of the deaths at Ruby this past weekend could have been prevented if the individuals had been vaccinated.

“It’s become a real tragic scene to see young families bringing teenage and younger children into the hospital to say goodbye to their mother or their father,” Wilson said.

Sadly, health experts and political leaders still must beg people to get vaccinated. The rate of individuals getting shots in West Virginia continues to slowly decline.  Only 58 percent of West Virginians 12+ are fully vaccinated.

“The vaccine definitely helps your body to mount an immediate response to fight it off,” Wilson said.

But tens of thousands of West Virginians are choosing to either ignore the medical advice or rely on their natural immunity to protect them.  Last week, a caller to Talkline referenced two studies—one from the Cleveland Clinic and another from Israel—that touted the benefits of natural immunity.

It is true that both studies referenced the power of the human immune system post-infection to fight off another round of the virus.  However, in both instances, health experts still said that getting the vaccine was safer and more effective than risking getting Covid to build up natural immunity.

The Cleveland Clinic made a point of putting their research in context.  “More research is needed. We do not know how long the immune system will protect itself against re-infection after Covid-19.  It is safe to receive the Covid-19 vaccine even if you have previously tested positive and we recommend all those who are eligible receive it.” [Emphasis added].

As I have written before, we have reached an impasse on vaccines.  Most individuals who are resisting the shot are not likely to change their mind.

However, as the disturbing number of deaths this past weekend at Ruby Memorial Hospital demonstrates, that decision comes with a risk, especially for individuals who have co-morbidities.




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