West Virginia COVID Cases Rise 72 Percent, Hospitalizations up 29 Percent Since Christmas

West Virginia has seen COVID cases increase 72 percent in the past week, with hospitalizations up 29 percent since Christmas. There are 721 patients hospitalized for COVID in the state as of Monday, the most since mid-October.

In the past week, the state reported 11,138 confirmed COVID cases, breaking the one-week record of 9,587 set in mid-September, according to the state's Department of Health and Human Resources' dashboard. The state had over 2,000 COVID cases in a day for the first time, reporting at least that many on three consecutive days, and reached a record high of 2,564 cases on Friday.

The total number of active cases increased to 15,015 as of Sunday, doubling since December 24. It's the most since September, when active cases rose to a record of almost 30,000.

There were also 20 new deaths reported, according to the DHHR's dashboard.

Most of the COVID cases are from the Delta variant, with only 75 identified Omicron variant COVID cases, the West Virginia MetroNews radio network reported.

"The reality is, it's a tough spot for us. This seems from all indications to be a variant of the virus that is highly infectious but it is not causing the high degree of hospitalizations to this point or death that we've seen before," Albert Wright, president and chief executive of West Virginia University Health system told West Virginia MetroNews. "It feels like we're in the late stages of a heavyweight boxing match. If we can make it through this final bout and surge, hopefully things can get easier."

COVID Case Increase, West Virginia, Hospitalizations Increase
There are 721 patients hospitalized for COVID in West Virginia as of Monday, the most since mid-October. In this photo, health care workers attend to a patient with COVID as they prepare to turn the 45-year-old unvaccinated patient from his stomach onto his back at the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center in Tarzana, California, on September 2, 2021. Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

Dr. Clay Marsh, the state's coronavirus expert, said last week that the spread of the Omicron variant lagged behind the rest of the nation, with the variant detected in about 15% of West Virginia cases.

Governor Jim Justice had warned that the latest surge could overrun hospitals. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 81% of intensive-care unit beds statewide are in use, including 31% for COVID-19 patients.

The West Virginia Hospital Association has said that the high number of COVID-19 patients combined with hospital visits for trauma, flu and other patients "has strained the health care system, and now after nearly two years, the system is nearing a breaking point as health care workers are mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted."

Justice has implored state residents to get vaccinated for the virus, including booster shots. About half of the state's population is fully vaccinated and 61% have received at least one dose, according to state health officials.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.