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COVID-19: Hospital strain shows need to get vaccinated

Still think we’re better off now than we were a year ago, in dealing with COVID-19? Officials at our state’s hospitals will tell you you’re dead wrong. Wednesday, West Virginia was five patients short of the record high 818 hospitalized virus patients we had on Jan. 5 — before vaccination efforts were in full swing.

Worse, two days ago there were a record 252 virus patients in hospital intensive care units, and a record 132 patients on ventilators.

“Our hospitals are being stressed in ways that they haven’t been stressed before,” Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s coronavirus expert, said.

Hospitals are asking people to avoid unnecessary emergency room visits. Elective procedures are being put off … even some very necessary but delayable surgeries are being rescheduled. Visitors are again being banned from some hospitals in the state.

Statewide the number of positive virus cases last week in West Virginia, about 7,800, was the second-highest for one week since the start of the pandemic, with 45 deaths reported between Sunday and Wednesday. A disturbing 16% of the infections are in children under age 12 — too young to get vaccinated, and depending on the rest of us to do the right thing.

Yet only about 59% of those who are eligible in the state are fully vaccinated. (Approximately 73% have received one dose.)

So while we’re talking all these numbers, here are two that SHOULD hit home — 83% of those hospitalized with the virus are unvaccinated; 90% of those in ICUs have not gotten the shots.

We can do something about this. Those who are resisting vaccination, arguing against wearing masks AND trying to convince others to follow their poor example can do several things. Wash and sanitize your hands often. Don’t touch your face. Wear a mask. Maintain social distance. And get vaccinated. Heck, you don’t even have to tell anyone about that last one. Just get it done. No one has to know you did the right thing for yourself, your loved ones and your community.

But we’ll all be better off for it.

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