West Virginia was formerly one of the main American states in the deployment of vaccinations against Covid-19. Today, it is one of the least vaccinated, with the fastest growing infection rate in the country. Healthcare systems are overwhelmed, with record numbers of inpatients, intensive care units and ventilators.
West Virginia has rushed to vaccinate people over 65 and residents of long-term care facilities, achieving good levels of protection among these groups.
But reaching young people in West Virginia has been a lot enjoyedIt's difficult.
Governor Jim Justice, a Republican, has been a voice support of the vaccination, regularly urging voters to get vaccinated. The state was among the first to offer vaccination incentives, including $ 100 savings bonds and a lottery, named after Justice English Bulldog Babydog , to award scholarships , a car, a pontoon and more. He spoke out strongly against conspiracy theories and criticized health workers who refuse the vaccine, calling the decision " asinine ".
Even so, onlyent 39.9% of West Virginia are fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data , tied with Wyoming for the lowest rate in the country. According to the West Virginia Department of Health, this rate is much higher, at 51.7% ; the reason for the gap is unclear.
And with the dominance of the Delta variant, West Virginia is experiencing its worst push yet .
"This has been more serious than what we have seen at any time during the pandemic " said Dr Clay Marsh, chief of the state response to Covid, to Guardian. And the Delta variant makes youngsters much sicker than in previous waves, he said.
West Virginia has the fastest acceleration of new cases, considering its population of around 1.8 million, with a 52% increase in new cases over the past week. The number of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and people on ventilators for Covid-19 have all broken previous records and continue to rise.
On Saturday alone, the The state has reported more than 2,200 new cases, with one in 10 testing positive again.
"I think more and more people are feeling their way. 'worried about what they're seeing in West Virginia, "Marsh said, and the recent spike in cases has led to an increase in vaccinations.
The vast majority of hospitalized patients are not vaccinated, Justice said during a press conference on Friday, and this is especially true for people in intensive care and on ventilators.
"We can stop this, West Virginia, we can stop it" Justice said. "The vac ines are safe. Vaccines are not an invasion on anyone. Yet he also criticized Biden's new vaccination mandates, which he says encroach on business.
Several major health systems have made vaccination mandatory, as have some emergency medical services. At the University of West Virginia, the faculty voted to make vaccines compulsory for all students and employees.
In a condition with highrural population, access could be an issue, but Marsh believes this has not been the main factor in low immunization rates. "We have been very aggressive so that access is not a problem," he said. "We will go to someone's house to get them vaccinated.
Instead, residents tend to be wary of the government, the health care system, and the vaccines themselves. Just having the vaccines is not enough, even with the exhortation of the top state leader.
Justice has lifted the state mask mandate on June 20. Although he said the demand could return, he preferred to leave decisions like these to local courts. It also has does not support a school mask mandate, but 51 of the 55 counties haveThere isn't some sort of mask requirement in schools, Marsh said.
Almost all of the state is in the highest risk category for transmission of the virus. Justice said there was no indication West Virginia was near peak, saying it could be Halloween or Thanksgiving before the virus was under control.
Marsh said this push has put enormous strain on health care systems.
" In Idaho, where we are seeing some rationing start , that's what has been our concern, ”Marsh mentioned. But the state was "not yet " implementing crisis care standards, he said. Elective procedures requiring a hospital bed have been postponed.
Unlike other surges, the solution isn't as simple as putting together ad hoc field hospitals. "This time it'sdifferent as far as the staff is really the limit, "he said. Finding qualified health workers has been the main challenge, he said.
Prompt action on precautions now would not only help stem this epidemic and prevent health systems from collapsing, it would also prevent further spikes from occurring.
Vaccination would help a lot, Marsh said, "to slow things down here, not just with the Delta variant right now, but as we move into the winter with d 'other variations that may emerge ".