Local hospitals reach capacity due to Covid | Health
Dr. Bridgett Morrison, health officer for Greenbrier County, is “begging” people to wear a mask and get vaccinated, saying, “Our hospital is at capacity.”
During a press conference on Friday just outside the front doors of the county health department offices in Rainelle, Morrison said that the unrelenting spike in Covid cases is hitting her county hard.
Greenbrier County’s infection rate is among the highest in the state, having checked in at a rate of 110.04 cases per 100,000 on Friday, and then climbing higher on Saturday to 116.22.
On Aug. 27, one week ago Friday, the county’s rate was 82.84.
Just next door in Monroe County, the rate was 129.67 on Saturday.
Morrison said that she was issuing “a desperate plea” for Greenbrier residents to come together and do what is best for the community.
“Greenbrier County is so famous for standing up and doing the right thing,” she said. “Look at the flood of 2016. We stood up and we helped each other. Why can’t we do that now?”
According to the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), active cases in West Virginia climbed to 20,102 on Saturday, up from 15,663 one week ago and up from 3,108 one month ago.
Hospitalizations in the state reached 709 on Saturday, still off the high of 818 last Jan. 5, but up from 52 on July 4.
“So how does that affect everyone else?” Morrison said. “There might not be enough beds. And there may not be enough providers.
“And that’s not just here locally.”
Morrison urged people “to look at the statistics. Look at the hospitalizations. What you are seeing is Covid.”
“I can tell you that as of this morning,” Morrison said, “the hospital count for Covid infections (in Greenbrier County) supercedes any that we had in the surge in the fall and winter.”
She intimated that politics may be partly to blame.
“Everyone wants to debate everything,” she said.
“You can’t deny these facts,” she said. “This isn’t propaganda. This isn’t fear techniques. This isn’t fear tactics. This isn’t politics.
“This is what we are seeing,” Morrison said. “It is objective data.”
Morrison had taken her campaign to the county health department’s Facebook page on Thursday, writing, “Our hospital, regional hospitals, and all hospitals throughout the nation are at capacity.
“This means that anyone involved in an accident or has a non-Covid-19 related emergency, in addition to Covid-19 infections, are going to suffer because there is not enough beds and/or providers available to provide proper care,” she wrote.
At the Friday press conference, she said, “It’s not just Covid,” that hospitals are dealing with. “It’s heart attacks. It’s the trauma. It’s the strokes. It’s everything else.”
Morrison is “strongly” recommending that everyone wear a mask while indoors, limit large gatherings, and get vaccinated.
“As of today,” Morrison wrote on the department’s Facebook post, “we have had 159 breakthrough cases of people that are fully vaccinated resulting in only one death (over the age of 60).
“There is no denying that the vaccines are working to prevent and/or lessen severity of illness. Please base your opinions on true science and evidence-based practice.
“This is not a political statement or platform,” Morrison wrote. “This is strictly about public health and keeping each other safe.”
She nailed the point again at the press conference.
The efficacy of the vaccines and mask wearing are “proven,” she said.
“People need to start looking at the stats, looking and following the science. You need to start following what is evidence-based and look at reputable sources.”
Statewide Covid-19 cases jumped by more than 4,000 on Thursday and Friday, according to the DHHR.
In Greenbrier County, the numbers are overwhelming the health department staff to the point that it cannot effectively trace infections.
The same is true around the state, said State Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad during Gov. Jim Justice’s Covid-19 press briefing later on Friday.
“West Virginia is experiencing high rates of community Covid transmission, and as a result it is putting strain resources on the health departments for contact tracing and case investigations,” Amjad said.
Amjad, who also serves as commissioner of the DHHR Bureau for Public Health, said contact tracers will only contact someone if they test positive for the disease.
“We’re not having enough staff to contact everyone who might be outside of your workforce and things like that,” Amjad said. “So if you’re positive, we want you to focus on your household and then we’re asking those people to think back the last two days and if they’ve been around people at work or some close contacts to contact those people for us.”
Morrison is not ready to issue a mask mandate even though she said she knows that wearing masks “drastically reduces the spread of the virus.”
“We are strongly encouraging, asking, begging in fact” people to wear a mask and get vaccinated.
“We can make this a mandate. I can make this a mandate,” she said. “We don’t want to do that.”
While the Greenbrier Valley Medical Center in Ronceverte has been at capacity “the last several days,” according to Morrison, she said Covid admissions are “at least 50 percent.”
Of the 709 people hospitalized in the state for Covid, 216 are being treated in intensive care units (the record is 219 set on Jan. 5) and 112 are on ventilator-assisted breathing, up one from the previous record set the day before.
The DHHR reported no Covid-related deaths on Saturday.