State officials: Hospitalizations continue to surge, mostly among the unvaccinated

CHARLESTON — COVID-19 hospitalizations in West Virginia have surpassed 500 for the first time since January.

During Wednesday’s COVID briefing, Gov. Jim Justice reported that 511 West Virginians are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. This marks the first time since late-January that the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations has surpassed 500.

Of the patients currently hospitalized, 171 are in the ICU and 74 are on ventilators. Both of these numbers continue to rapidly approach the all-time records in West Virginia.

“We know that the overwhelming majority – the overwhelming majority – of the people that are hospitalized in the ICUs, our deaths; they’re unvaccinated,” Gov. Justice said. “You have got to get vaccinated. There is nothing in your life that is as important as getting yourself vaccinated.”

“There is no time to wait,” State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh said. “We know that fully vaccinated people in the United States and Israel have a remarkably high protection against getting severe disease from COVID-19…We know that it’s the people not vaccinated, or who haven’t finished their vaccination series, they’re the ones that are most commonly going to the hospitals, going to the ICUs, and dying.”

“Unvaccinated West Virginians are filling up our hospital capacity,” West Virginia Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) Director Jim Hoyer said. “We currently are at 64% of the peak that we saw during the last big surge. If we stay on the current path that we are on, we could more than double that number.”

On Monday, the U.S. FDA officially gave its full stamp of approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

All West Virginians interested in being vaccinated are encouraged to visit or call the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965. 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.

Gov. Justice announced Wednesday that 80% of West Virginians ages 65 and older are now fully vaccinated. More than 6,100 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the past two days alone.

“For some of them, we will save their lives by getting them vaccinated. I can’t tell you if that’s 100 or 1,000, but a bunch of those people are going to have their lives saved,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s good, but it’s just not good enough. The bottom line is we don’t only need 6,100 people getting doses today; we need 26,100 people getting their vaccinations right now, or more.”

“A rule I try to live by is: ‘What would your dad tell you to do?’” Gov. Justice continued. “West Virginia, I’m pleading with you, ask your dad or ask yourself what your dad would tell you to do about this vaccine. I can’t imagine that the dads would tell their kids not to take the vaccine. It’s too important to all of us. It’s too important that you don’t fill up the hospitals and restrict our people’s access to care. Please, you’ve got to get vaccinated.”

The total number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia has now reached 11,725; an increase of 1,182 from the case total during the Governor’s previous briefing on Monday and the state’s highest number of active cases since Feb. 13.

The Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to catalyze this latest surge. Gov. Justice reported Wednesday that there are now 554 confirmed cases of the Delta variant statewide.

To view COVID-19 variant data: Go to the WV COVID-19 Dashboard at Make sure the “Overview” tab is selected. Click yellow box reading: “Click here to view variant data.” The County Alert System map now shows that 51 of the state’s 55 counties are either in the Red or Orange categories.

The Governor went on to say that he has directed members of the West Virginia COVID-19 pandemic response leadership team to contact the White House in efforts to secure approval to begin administering these additional doses.

Meanwhile, the JIATF is running tabletop exercises and planning drills so that they are ready to immediately begin administering additional doses as soon as authorization comes.

“If you’re 60 and older, and you’re out six months – or past that – from when you had your vaccination, we need you to be ready, because we’ll be ready.”

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