(04/04/2020)
West Virginia has about a month until coronavirus peaks here.

And when it does, about 500 West Virginians — give or take a few hundred — are expected to die, according to current projections from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Dr. Ali Mokdad, one of the researchers working on the projections, said deaths in the state may be high per capita because West Virginia’s population is high risk. Coronavirus has hit older adults and people with underlying health conditions the hardest.

In an interview with West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Mokdad said residents of the state should be mindful of those demographics by adhering to mitigation practices.

“So you have to be extra careful in enforcing these [measures] and making sure that people stay at home,” Mokdad said.

However, Mokdad said it is possible to improve outcomes depending on what governments do to stop the spread of the disease and whether residents adhere to public guidance. The researchers are taking these mitigation practices into consideration as part of their projections.

“We assume, unlike anybody else, that there are measures in place to fight the pandemic,” Mokdad said.

For example, he said, a stay at home measure, the closure of the schools and shutting down non-essential businesses will help reduce the number of cases a state experiences. West Virginia has implemented all of those measures.

The most current projections show West Virginia will see the worst impact of the coronavirus in early May.

"That gives time for hospitals in West Virginia to prepare, to get more ventilators on time. And then, for example, some of the operating rooms or some of the recovery rooms after an operation could be switched to be an ICU bed,” Mokdad said. “So, that fact that the peak is delayed is very good news for West Virginia.”


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