West Virginia’s hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients climbed above 500 for the first time since January amid the spread of the delta variant, Gov. Jim Justice announced on Wednesday.
As of Wednesday’s update, 511 West Virginians were hospitalized. At least 171 were in an intensive care unit and 74 were on ventilators. Most of the hospitalizations were of people who did not receive the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the governor’s office, but a specific breakdown was not provided.
“We know that the overwhelming majority … of the people that are hospitalized in the ICUs, our deaths; they’re unvaccinated,” Justice said in a statement. “You have got to get vaccinated. There is nothing in your life that is as important as getting yourself vaccinated.”
Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh used the news to again reiterate that people should get the vaccine.
“There is no time to wait,” Marsh said. “We know that fully vaccinated people in the United States and Israel have a remarkably high protection against getting severe disease from COVID-19. …We know that it’s the people [who are] not vaccinated, or who haven’t finished their vaccination series, they’re the ones that are most commonly going to the hospitals, going to the ICUs and dying.”
Hospitalization is at 64% of the peak of West Virginia’s last surge. This is the highest it’s been since late January.
More than 58% of the eligible population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and more than 71% are fully vaccinated. Vaccination rates are much higher for the older population than the younger population. Death or serious illness from COVID-19 is extremely rare for young people, but risks are increased if the person is older or has a compromised immune system or other health problem.
More than 84% of West Virginians who are 50 years old or older have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine and more than 72% are fully vaccinated. Nearly 91% of people aged 65 or older have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine and about 80% are fully vaccinated.
The Pfizer vaccine received full approval from the FDA on Monday, while Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have emergency use authorization approval. Health officials have said each of the vaccines are safe.
Anyone aged 12 or older can receive the vaccine, but they have not yet been authorized for younger children.
Justice also reiterated his request that the federal government speed up the approval of allowing a third dose, or a booster shot, of the two-shot vaccines after studied showed immunity decreasing gradually over time.
This article was originally posted on West Virginia COVID-19 hospitalizations surpass 500