During his briefing, Gov. Justice noted that Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of the discovery of the first case of COVID-19 in West Virginia.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s really been tough. You think about all the things that we’ve been through, all the people we’ve lost along the way, all the stuff that everybody has worried and agonized about.”
The Governor played a video commemorating the anniversary and highlighting the numerous ways West Virginia has led the nation and the world with its pandemic response efforts.
“Watching this video, it surely brings back a lot of tough days for all of us,” Gov. Justice said. “As we look back, there are so many things to be grateful about and so many things to be prayerful about.
“As hard as it’s been, it could have been so, so much worse,” Gov. Justice continued. “I thank you, West Virginia, for staying with me along the way and pulling the rope together.”
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) and Thomas Health are officially closing the COVID-19 surge facility at Saint Francis Hospital in Charleston.
The decision was made based on the amount of COVID-19 positive patients admitted to healthcare facilities across the state.
“I want to thank Thomas Health for serving our state during one of the most difficult years in healthcare history,” Gov. Justice said.
The surge facility had been operational since early August 2020.
“Let’s hope and pray our numbers continue to go downhill,” Gov. Justice said. “But I warn you: don’t fall asleep at the switch. If we have to stand it back up, we will stand it back up.
“One robin doesn’t make spring,” Gov. Justice continued. “We know this thing can whip back around on us, so we all need to stay careful.”
Also today, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that he announced Monday that he has again broadened the state’s vaccine prioritization to include all essential workers, while also expanding the list of pre-existing medical conditions qualifying West Virginians to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Gov. Justice once again encouraged all West Virginians age 16 and older desiring to be vaccinated to pre-register at vaccinate.wv.gov or by calling 1-833-734-0965.
Vaccinations are currently available to all West Virginians age 50 and older, education workers age 40-50, all West Virginians age 16 and older with qualifying pre-existing medical conditions, and all essential workers.
West Virginians who are age 65 and older will continue to be prioritized first until all state residents in this age range who desire the vaccine have been vaccinated.
To date, 215,520 West Virginians age 65 and older have chosen to be vaccinated, including 136,650 who are now fully vaccinated.
Any West Virginians age 65 and older who are still waiting on an appointment are urged to call the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965 to ensure that they are scheduled to be vaccinated. The info line is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Free COVID-19 vaccination clinics either already have been or will be held in all 55 counties across West Virginia this week through operation “Save Our Wisdom.”
Each clinic location has its own, unique schedule. Names are being pulled from the West Virginia COVID-19 Vaccine Registration System to fill out appointments. All clinics require appointments and walk-ins will not be accepted.
Vaccine supplies are limited, so pre-registration does not mean immediate access to vaccination. Pre-registration offers West Virginians the opportunity to receive real-time updates on vaccine availability and schedule an appointment when available as vaccine supplies allow. The vaccine registration system allows people to select their preferences for communication through text, email, or voicemail over regular phone lines.
The Governor went on to say that increased emphasis on pre-registrations is needed in a handful of counties across the state, including Berkeley, Calhoun, Clay, Gilmer, Hampshire, Jackson, Jefferson, Lincoln, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mineral, Mingo, Morgan, Ritchie, Upshur, Wayne, and Wood counties. The Governor urged West Virginians in these counties with friends and family age 65 and older to help these individuals get pre-registered.
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now seven active church-related outbreaks in West Virginia. These outbreaks are located in Fayette, Monongalia, Nicholas, Raleigh, and Webster counties and account for a total of 54 cases, up from 32 as of the Governor’s previous briefing on Monday.
There are now just two outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state, down from three such outbreaks on Monday.
The Governor also reported that there are now 28 inmate cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) system, down from 34 on Monday. Meanwhile, there are now eight active staff cases across the DCR system, down from 10 on Monday.