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Area hospitals, including King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, are raising the alarm as beds fill up with COVID-19 patients at the start of flu season.

HUNTINGTON — Area hospitals are sounding the alarm as beds fill up with COVID-19 patients at the start of flu season.

King’s Daughters Medical Center CEO Kristie Whitlatch reported in a Facebook post Friday that the Ashland hospital was at capacity.

“We are working to open a third nursing unit to care for COVID patients,” Whitlatch wrote. “Multiple nursing units dedicated to one virus are unprecedented in our 120-year history. Many of these patients are very ill, and many of our physicians, nurses and support team have been struck by the virus. I understand people have differing opinions, but we know for a fact it is dangerous and deadly because we live it every day.”

Whitlach said the hospital’s infectious disease specialists and other medical professionals are very concerned at how quickly and widely COVID-19 is spreading locally.

“At King’s Daughters, our numbers and trend lines are continuing to surge upward,” she said. “We have had 22 COVID-related deaths to date and over 120 new positive cases just this week.”

In Charleston, WCHS-TV reported the city of Charleston and Kanwaha County had filed requests for field hospitals to assist Charleston Area Medical Center in its COVID-19 response. There are more than 60 COVID-19 patients at the hospital.

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch said Friday there was no need for a field hospital yet. 

“There have been discussions with regard to CAMC having a tent put up to take care of flow and triage prior to patients entering the hospital,” Crouch said.

West Virginia National Guard Maj. Gen. James Hoyer said the logistics of establishing and staffing a field hospital are complicated. A 250-bed hospital takes about 104 medical staff and about 50 logistics and support and maintenance staff, he said.

Gov. Jim Justice said he is working closely with the West Virginia Hospital Association to monitor the capacity in the state’s hospitals. 

Whitlatch said this moment is a call to action, reminding people of the guidelines like wearing a mask and maintaining safe distance from others to stop the surge.

“No longer can we say it is primarily impacting those with underlying health conditions or nursing home residents,” she said. “It is attacking babies, children, and healthy, active men and women who have no idea how they were exposed. We are also seeing difficult recoveries, many taking months to fully recover and some who have yet to fully recover and may see the impact for the rest of their lives.”

The Ashland-Boyd County Health Department reported 11 new positive cases of COVID-19 on Friday: a 64-year-old man and 27-year-old woman who are hospitalized, and a 52-year-old woman, 25-year-old man, 80-year-old man, 68-year-old man, 38-year-old man, 67-year-old woman, 3-year-old girl, 88-year-old man and 27-year-old man, all isolating at home.

There are 105 active cases in the county out of a total 402.

Statewide, 777 new positive cases were reported, for a total of 60,128, and eight new deaths, for a total of 1,101.

In Ohio, the Lawrence County Health Department reported 10 new positive cases, with patients’ ages ranging from 17 to 72, including one teenager. There are 90 active cases out of a total 602.

Statewide, 1,011 new cases were reported, for a total of 142,596, and 28 new deaths, for a total of 4,608.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.