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Marietta Memorial Hospital sets COVID census record

Many West Virginia counties remain red on map

MARIETTA — Marietta Memorial Hospital eclipsed last year’s peak number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 on Wednesday.

“We are in a crisis as the demand for health care services is outstripping our ability to meet it,” said Jennifer Offenberger, associate vice president for service excellence for the Memorial Health System. “Our ICU is currently at 200 percent of designed capacity.”

The health system posted on its Facebook page Wednesday that it had 78 patients with the coronavirus, 65 of whom were unvaccinated. The patients range in age from 27 to 89 years old.

In mid-December, the hospital’s highest COVID census was 74 or 75 patients, Offenberger said.

“The age range is much lower now — we’re seeing 30- and 40-year-olds dying,” she said.

Fifteen COVID-positive patients were in the intensive care unit, 11 of them unvaccinated, the post said. There were 15 COVID patients on ventilators, all but four unvaccinated.

Offenberger said health care workers are putting in longer hours and more shifts, while operating under prolonged stress.

“Our communities have experienced a great deal of loss the past few weeks due to COVID-19,” she said. “As our teams console families of patients who have passed, some family members mentioned that they never expected COVID-19 to create this loss. Sadly, this loss is what it has taken for some family members to become vaccinated themselves.”

A walk-in vaccination clinic is offered from 1-3 p.m. on Tuesdays in Suite 301 at Marietta Memorial Hospital.

WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center’s COVID census on Wednesday afternoon was 74, a hospital spokesman said. That’s down three from Tuesday, when the hospital had to divert patients for much of the day due to the strain on its oxygen systems.

Like 42 other counties in West Virginia, Wood County was red on Wednesday’s County Alert System map. That represents the highest level of COVID spread based on new cases per 100,000 people in a one- or two-week period or percentage of tests coming back positive, whichever is lower. Also in that category were Calhoun, Doddridge, Jackson, Ritchie, Tyler, Wetzel and Wirt.

Pleasants and Roane counties were orange, the second-highest category. So were seven other counties.

Gilmer County, where active cases had dipped below 40 according to the latest statistics from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, was the only county in the state on gold, the middle of the spectrum.

Pocahontas County was the sole yellow county, and Tucker County was green, the first county reaching the lowest designation in more than a week.

Active cases in local counties as of Wednesday (previous day) were: Calhoun, 230 (229); Doddridge, 145 (148); Gilmer, 39 (42); Jackson, 297 (294); Pleasants, 125 (116); Ritchie, 204 (204); Roane, 188 (195); Tyler, 245 (242); Wetzel, 359 (371); Wirt, 128 (126); and Wood, 1,392 (1,380).

Calhoun County Schools students were scheduled to return to the classroom today after moving to remote learning Sept. 7 due to COVID issues. Superintendent Kelli Whytsell said all students should be out of quarantine.

“We are hopeful that we can get past this and have a good year,” she said.

The state’s COVID dashboard showed 35 additional deaths attributed to the virus since Tuesday. Among them were a 71-year-old woman from Pleasants County, an 80-year-old man from Tyler County, a 73-year-old woman from Calhoun County and a 58-year-old woman from Wirt County.

Staff reporters Candice Black and Brett Dunlap contributed to this story.

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