CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia health leaders and other officials today for his latest daily press briefing regarding the State’s COVID-19 response.
WEEKLY VACCINE ALLOCATION TO INCREASE IN WEST VIRGINIA
After participating in a national COVID-19 leadership call yesterday with members of President Joe Biden’s administration, other governors across America, United States COVID-19 Czar Jeff Zients, and others, Gov. Justice reported during his latest briefing Wednesday that West Virginia will soon be receiving an increase in its allocation of vaccine doses from the federal government.
“There’s going to be about a million vaccines that are going to be given to pharmacies all across our land, and it’s going to be appropriated by population,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s going to give West Virginia between an additional 2,500 and 3,000 vaccines per week.”
The Governor went on to say that ,in the weeks ahead, he anticipates West Virginia’s total weekly vaccine allocation will approach 30,000 doses.
“It’s nowhere close to what we want it to be, but it’s better,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re going to continue to hope and pray that there’s more vaccines coming in so we can really get moving on getting vaccinations to everyone who wants them. That’s the whole goal.”
WEST VIRGINIA LONG-TERM CARE RESIDENTS, STAFF OPTING TO BE VACCINATED AT HIGHER RATE THAN NATIONAL AVERAGE
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that the West Virginia’s percentages of long-term care facility residents and employees who have chosen to be vaccinated are significantly outpacing the national averages in these categories.
Yesterday, the CDC released a report which said only 77.8 percent of long-term care facility residents and 37.5 percent of staff members were choosing to get the vaccine nationwide.
Meanwhile, in West Virginia, approximately 81 percent of long-term care facility residents and 61 percent of staff members have chosen to be vaccinated to date.
“West Virginia, you’re doing a lot better than the nation, but those numbers still need to come up even higher,” Gov. Justice said. “Our resident number should probably be higher than 81 percent, but God only knows that our staff ought to be better than 61 percent. But it’s still dramatically better than what’s going on across our nation.”
GOVERNOR URGES WEST VIRGINIANS TO DOUBLE-CHECK CLINIC SCHEDULES, PRE-REGISTER TO BE VACCINATED
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that free COVID-19 vaccination clinics are being held this week in all 55 counties across West Virginia through operation “Save Our Wisdom.”
However, the Governor warned that clinic schedules in some locations have been adjusted due to the severe winter weather experienced in some regions of the state this week.
Visit vaccinate.wv.gov to view all current clinic locations and schedules.
The clinics are available for West Virginians who are 65 years of age and older. Residents from any county in West Virginia may access an appointment at any of the vaccination clinics listed, regardless of their county of residence.
The earliest of this week’s clinics began today. However, different locations will be open on different days through Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021. Each location has its own, unique schedule.
Many clinics are listed as full as they are utilizing existing waitlists. However, West Virginians can now pre-register for a COVID-19 vaccine through the West Virginia COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration system at vaccinate.wv.gov. All clinics require appointments and walk-ins will not be accepted.
Last week, West Virginia became the first state in the nation to put a statewide vaccination pre-registration system in place. The new digital tool allows West Virginians to add themselves to a list of people who are interested in being vaccinated, and will notify those who sign up about the availability of vaccine doses to help streamline vaccination efforts.
To date, more than 177,000 West Virginians have signed up to be added to the pre-registration list.
West Virginians age 16 and older can pre-register online or call the COVID-19 Vaccine Info Line (1-833-734-0965) to get help pre-registering.
Pre-registering in the system does not automatically grant users access to a vaccine appointment. Rather, users will receive a message from the system when there is a vaccine available. When that occurs, users will be notified by text, email, or phone call to set up an appointment.
VACCINE DISTRIBUTION UPDATE
Once again Wednesday, Gov. Justice also reported that West Virginia remains among the national leaders in the rate of COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration.
According to the latest vaccine numbers posted to the COVID-19 Dashboard (Click “Vaccine Summary” tab), West Virginia now boasts a first dose administration rate of 94.9 percent and a second dose administration rate of 60.6 percent.
West Virginia has administered the highest rate of second vaccine doses per capita of any state in the nation, according to the CDC’s vaccination tracker.
West Virginia is also among the best states in the nation for overall vaccine supply used, according to Bloomberg.com’s vaccination tracker.
To date, West Virginia has administered 196,726 first doses and 73,524 second doses, totaling 270,250 doses administered overall statewide.
VACCINATION CARD SCAM WARNING
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that the Better Business Bureau is warning Americans to avoid sharing photos of their COVID-19 vaccination cards.
“Sharing pictures of your card on social media makes it easy for scammers to create imitation cards that they can sell,” Gov. Justice said. “It also makes it easy for them to potentially steal your personal information from the cards.
“Don’t let them do that,” Gov. Justice continued.
GOV. JUSTICE EXPRESSES CONDOLENCES AFTER PASSING OF 3-YEAR OLD
Additionally, Gov. Justice offered his prayers and condolences to the family of a 3-year-old boy who passed away yesterday.
“We had a super-tragedy just happen in West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “The West Virginia State Police responded to a call in Braxton County and found a 3-year-old boy who had died with signs of extreme physical abuse on his body. There’s a stepdad in custody. It’s just really, really sad.
“I offer up tons of prayers to this little boy and his family,” Gov. Justice continued. “Abuse and neglect in West Virginia is just something that’s hard to fathom – how somebody could be mean to a kid – I mean, I just can’t imagine it. But, if you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, please report it to the DHHR. You could prevent the possible next tragic situation that could happen in West Virginia.”
DHHR Child Abuse or Neglect Line: 1-800-352-6513
GOVERNOR RENEWS CALLS FOR ALL SCHOOLS TO REOPEN FOR FULL IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice renewed his call for all Pre-K-12 schools in West Virginia to reopen for in-person instruction five days a week.
“There are so many different reasons that we need to be back in school,” Gov. Justice said. “We need to be back in school because our kids are failing. We need to be back in school for the needs of all of our special needs kids. We need to be back in school from the standpoint of trying to have eyes on our kids, to see if we can prevent the next tragedy of abuse or a bad situation that may happen.
“We have tried, with all in us, to make our schools as safe as we can possibly make them,” Gov. Justice continued. “We can’t guarantee perfectness anywhere, there’s no way that we could do that. But we have been told by the science and the medical community, over and over, that our schools are safe.”
Gov. Justice added that CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said today that the vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.
West Virginia is the only state in the country to prioritize school employees as essential, moving them to elevated status to receive the vaccine.
“We have gone another step forward in vaccinating all of our teachers and service personnel that wanted to take a shot that were of age 50 or older with the commitment that, as soon as we get an ample supply of vaccines, we will double back through and get all the people that are under 50,” Gov. Justice said. “But, without any question, we need to be back in school.”
WEIRTON FIRE DEPARTMENT LIEUTENANT DIES OF COVID-19
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice offered his prayers and condolences to the family and friends of Lieutenant Brian Ritchie of the Weirton Fire Department, who recently passed away due to COVID-19.
Ritchie was a 13-year veteran of the Weirton Fire Department.
“We’ve lost a hero there,” Gov .Justice said. “I ask you, in every way, please keep him in your thoughts and prayers, as well as all of his family.”
COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS UPDATE
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that the current number of active cases in the state is now 19,212, down from 20,615 as of the Governor’s previous COVID-19 briefing on Monday.
The number of daily active cases in West Virginia has now decreased for 18 straight days.
West Virginia has also now surpassed 100,000 recovered cases, with recoveries up to 101,200.
Meanwhile, the number of active hospitalizations is now 456, up from 438 on Monday, with 129 of those patients currently in the ICU.
The cumulative percent of positive cases is now 5.62 percent.
WEDNESDAY MAP UPDATE
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice provided a look at West Virginia’s latest mid-week County Alert System map update.
The map is updated live on the DHHR’s COVID-19 Dashboard (Click “County Alert System” tab) throughout the week.
Red counties: 9
Orange counties: 30
Gold counties: 8
Yellow counties: 6
Green counties: 2
DHHR’s COVID-19 Dashboard (Click “County Alert System” tab)
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that there remain four active church-related outbreaks across three counties: Clay, Nicholas, and Summers counties. These outbreaks account for a total of 35 cases, down from 63 such cases as of Monday.
There are now 57 outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state, down from 68 outbreaks on Monday.
The Governor also reported that there are now 21 inmate cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) system, down 23 on Monday. Meanwhile, there are now 24 active staff cases across the DCR system, down from 37 on Monday.
AGGRESSIVE TESTING CONTINUES ACROSS STATE
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice provided an overview of the 52 counties across the state that have free testing events scheduled through the Governor’s Aggressive Testing initiative.
This testing is available to all residents, including asymptomatic individuals. Proof of insurance is not required. Attendees should bring identification, such as a driver’s license or proof of address, to help in returning test results. Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
An interactive online map of all free testing locations across West Virginia is available on the state’s COVID-19 website. Users can filter the map by type of testing site, including daily testing events, recurring testing events, as well as Walgreens and Fruth Pharmacy testing locations. Users can also filter by county. Each location is marked on the map with a pin. After finding a testing location nearby, users are able to click on the pin for more information about that particular testing site, including the specific location and timeframe during which testing will be held.
For more information about COVID-19 prevention and more, call the State’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-887-4304 or visit Coronavirus.wv.gov.