CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia hospitals continue to be overrun with COVID–19 patients as the number of people seeking treatment for the virus hit a record of 893 on Wednesday, officials said.
That’s 41 more than Monday’s record and is up from the total of 52 people hospitalized for the virus on July 4, according to state health data.
Gov. Jim Justice said 745 of those hospitalized, or about 85%, are unvaccinated.
“If you have chosen to be unvaccinated, in my opinion, it was a bad choice,” Justice said at a news conference. “It was your choice.”
Justice has pleaded with residents to get their coronavirus shots but has balked at issuing either a vaccination or new mask mandate. He said mandating masks is “penalizing” some people. But he said he’s not convinced that it’s going to significantly help as the pandemic goes unchecked, although he applauded counties statewide for mandating masks in schools. An earlier indoor mask requirement was lifted in June as the number of cases dropped.
The number of virus patients in hospital intensive care units hit a record 275 on Monday. On July 4, there were 17.
“We don’t need mandates, but you need to make a great decision right now,” Justice said. “More and more people are dying.”
The number of vaccinated people with underlying conditions who have died, called breakthrough cases, reached 104 on Wednesday, up from 69 at the end of August. That total represents about 3.2% of the 3,296 total deaths from the virus statewide.
There have been 212 deaths reported this month, far surpassing the total for all of August and includes 14 added to the count Tuesday after being reconciled with official death certificates.
And the number of current statewide virus cases, about 27,700, has doubled over the past three weeks, according to health data.