CHARLESTON, W.Va. — St. Francis Hospital in Charleston is being set up as a COVID-19 surge center, Gov. Jim Justice said Monday.
Secretary Bill Crouch, the state’s secretary of health and human resources, said the hospital will initially provide 15 beds and the number can increase as needed.
St. Francis will provide active short-term care for COVID-19 patients. Justice said the idea of using the hospital as a COVID surge center was initially discussed in April.
During a Monday press briefing, Justice again expressed his concern about the migration of COVID-19 from the south.
He said West Virginia’s southern counties — Logan, Mingo and Mercer — have seen an increase in positive cases.
“This terrible killer is moving from the south and we see it and we’ve got to stay on our game,” he said. “The situation continues to migrate right toward us.”
Over the weekend, West Virginia reported 239 additional COVID-19 cases with a 10 increase in hospitalizations from 102 to 116.
Health officials say the outbreak in Logan County seems to be travel related.
“I?continue to tell all of West Virginia, take every, every possible precaution,” Justice said.
West Virginia has reported 6,800 cumulative positive cases and Justice noted that the numbers are much higher in bordering states including: Pennsylvania, 113,590; Ohio, 93,000; Virginia, 92,000; Maryland, 90,000; and Kentucky, 31,000.
West Virginia health officials are continuing to respond to an outbreak in a Princeton nursing home, where 33 residents and 31 staff members are infected, Justice said.
Outbreaks are also being reported at Beckley ARH Hospital and Logan Regional Medical Center.
Justice said virus outbreaks were reported in four churches with cases totaling 89. The churches were located in Mason, Grant, Logan and Taylor counties.
The COVID-19 death toll in West Virginia stood at 117 on Monday. The latest death was a 79-year-old male in Kanawha County.
Kanawha continued to lead the state in the highest number of cases on Monday with 312. Monongalia County had 277 active cases.
Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s COVID-19 czar, again stressed that the virus is continuing to infect younger segments of the population nationwide.
In Ohio, the age range for an infected person is 29-38. In Florida, the average age is 35, compared to 65 in April.
Marsh also stressed that studies are showing that COVID-19 has lingering long-term effects in younger people, including heart inflammation.
“This is not just the flu. We need to pay attention and keep from getting infected because of the long-term side effects,” he said.