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Damage

COVID-19 wreaking havoc on health systems

An idea of how much damage COVID-19 has done to the health care network was gained this week, when WVU Medicine President and CEO Albert Wright reported the hospital system has lost $75 million during the past month and a half.

WVU Medicine includes about a dozen hospitals and manages others. Several hospitals in our area are linked to the system.

Part of the response to COVID-19 by many governors, including those in our states, was to order hospitals to stop performing elective procedures. That order has been lifted, but not before it hurt the hospitals badly.

Wright expects some federal help, including about $45 million from the CARES Act. Clearly, that will leave a large financial gap.

If more federal aid related to COVID-19 is provided, it should do more for hospitals — which will be critical assets if another health care crisis occurs.

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In saying he will lift his stay-at-home order today, Gov. Jim Justice last week said he still recommends that West Virginians — especially the most vulnerable — avoid venturing out in public.

He is absolutely right. Beginning this week, some businesses, including restaurants, will be permitted to resume limited operations. And Justice on Friday said church services can resume, too.

That will please many, especially older people who seem to predominate in many congregations.

For them, their pastors and other churchgoers, however, the message this week needs to focus on caution. Steps such as social distancing still need to be observed, especially by older West Virginians.

COVID-19 is not beaten. It remains a killer against which we must not drop our defenses.

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