COVID-19 UPDATE: After 80 days in hospital, COVID survivor hopes his story will encourage more West Virginians to get vaccinated

10/18/2021

 
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CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice and members of the West Virginia COVID-19 pandemic response leadership team held another news briefing today to update the public on the State’s latest pandemic response efforts.
COVID SURVIVOR SHARES STORY OF HARROWING BATTLE AGAINST COVID-19; URGES ALL WEST VIRGINIANS TO GET VACCINATED
During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice was joined by Sissonville resident Christopher Holmes, who spent 80 days in the hospital, fighting for his life against COVID-19.

Holmes says he and most of his relatives were strongly opposed to getting vaccinated against COVID-19 until infections started to spread through the family in early June.

“My whole family ended up sick other than my daughter – she’s the only one that had the COVID shot. My wife, my son, and my daughter’s boyfriend, we all ended up with COVID and I kept getting worse and worse,” Holmes said. “On June 14th, I went into the hospital, and from there, I just kept getting worse.”
Click here to watch Holmes' full story
“They had to put me on a vent. They had to put me on an ECMO machine. I pretty much had hoses sticking out every hole of my body. I had a feeding tube. The hoses from the ECMO machine – they had to put two holes in my neck – my daughter said they were probably the size of garden hoses. They had to put a [tracheostomy tube] in me so I could breathe and I’ll have that scar for the rest of my life.

“It was tough,” Holmes continued. “I was there for 80 days. I had to take a total of 160 shots in my stomach for blood clots. It was tough for my family. One minute, I’d be doing great. The next minute, the doctors would tell [my wife] that I wasn’t going to make it.”

Holmes says it was a miracle he made it out alive. During his stay in the hospital, he lost 110 pounds and all of his muscle.

“I had to learn to walk again,” Holmes said. “I couldn’t go up any steps. I had to go to rehab and I’m still rehabbing now; it’s a long battle.”

He says that his entire family got vaccinated while he was in the hospital. Now, he’s hoping that his harrowing brush with death will convince more West Virginians to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting vaccinated as well.

“I have proof that the COVID shot works, because everyone had COVID in my house except my daughter and she was the only one that had the COVID shot,” Holmes said. “I didn’t want my daughter to get the shot because I heard rumors about not being able to have kids. But you think about this: if I told my daughter not to get a shot and she didn’t get the shot and the roles were reversed and she was laying up there in that hospital like me, could you live with yourself if she didn’t make it? I couldn’t.”

Following Holmes’ story, Gov. Justice once again urged all West Virginians to heed Holmes’ warning and take action to protect themselves and their families by getting vaccinated.

“If Christopher’s testimony doesn’t touch all of our hearts, I don’t know what does,” Gov. Justice said. “It takes a big man to stand up and to share this kind of story.

“I pray in every way for your speedy recovery and for all the goodness in the world for your family,” Gov. Justice continued. “Please don’t let this be you or your child. Please get vaccinated so no one you love has to go through this.”
CASE NUMBERS & HOSPITALIZATIONS CONTINUE TO DECREASE
On Monday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now 9,033 active cases of COVID-19 statewide; down by 1,180 cases since the Governor’s previous briefing on Friday last week.

The active case count is down by 20,711 since peaking one month ago, dropping by more than two-thirds (69.6%) in that timeframe.

COVID-19 Dashboard | Coronavirus.wv.gov

The state also continues to see a steady downward trend in the number of severe COVID cases.

The number of hospitalizations, patients in ICUs, and patients on ventilators have all dropped between 22.6% and 26.5% since peaking in the final week of September.

The number of hospitalizations is now 744; down by 96 over the past week. Since peaking at 1,012, hospitalizations have dropped by 268 (26.5%).

The number of patients in ICUs is now 221; down by 29 over the past week. Since peaking at 296, the number of patients in ICUs has dropped by 75 (25.3%).

The number of patients on ventilators is now 151; down by 17 over the past week. Since peaking at 195, the number of patients on ventilators has dropped by 44 (22.6%).

The County Alert System map also continues to show modest improvement, featuring two green counties, four yellow counties, six gold counties, 25 orange counties, and 18 red counties.
GOV. JUSTICE URGES RESIDENTS TO GET BOOSTER SHOT IF ELIGIBLE
With the percentage of fully vaccinated residents hospitalized for COVID-19 slowly creeping higher in recent weeks, Gov. Justice took time during his briefing to encourage all West Virginians to determine if they qualify for a booster dose and then get one if they are eligible.

West Virginians who received specifically the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine  may qualify for the booster shot if it has been at least six months since their second dose.

The CDC recommends that:
  • People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings SHOULD receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their second dose of Pfizer.
  • People aged 50–64 years with *underlying medical conditions SHOULD receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their second dose of Pfizer.
  • People aged 18–49 years with *underlying medical conditions MAY receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their second Pfizer dose, based on their individual benefits and risks.
  • People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting MAY receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their second Pfizer dose, based on their individual benefits and risks.
* = Underlying medical conditions: State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh noted that the list of underlying medical conditions that would qualify an individual to receive the booster shot is extremely broad and includes anybody who is overweight, has high blood pressure, is a current or former smoker, has heart or lung conditions, is diabetic, is pregnant, has liver or kidney disease, has received a transplant, has cancer, has substance use disorder, has HIV, has had a stroke or other brain disorder, has dementia or other neurologic disease, has Down Syndrome, has sickle cell anemia, and more.

Click here to read more (via CDC)
If you are eligible for the booster shot, you can go to any location offering COVID-19 vaccines with your vaccination card to receive the booster. If your card has been lost, you can request a new one from the DHHR.
FIND A VACCINE NEAR YOU
GOVERNOR OFFERS COLDOLENCES AFTER PASSING OF GENERAL COLIN POWELL FROM COVID COMPLICATIONS
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice offered his prayers and condolences to former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin L. Powell.

Powell’s family announced Monday that he had passed away due to complications from COVID-19 amid a battle with cancer. He was 84 years old.

“I can tell you that we lost a superstar beyond superstars right here,” Gov. Justice said. “So please join everyone in this nation in prayer for this great man.”

Powell was an American politician, diplomat, and four-star general who served as the 65th United States Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005. He was the first African American to serve as Secretary of State.

“He was a man that really led by kindness and logic and sternness and truth and trust, all those things,” Gov. Justice said. “He didn’t lead just because he had a title. He led out of compassion and love and right and absolute strength and, more than anything, out of trust. I could not possibly admire someone with those qualities any more, because I think that’s what it’s all about.”
Later in the afternoon, Gov. Justice issued a proclamation, ordering that all U.S. and WV flags on all state-owned facilities throughout West Virginia be displayed at half-staff, beginning immediately and continuing through sunset on Friday, Oct. 22, in honor of Powell’s life and legacy.

Click here to read more
GOV. JUSTICE ANNOUNCES 2ND YEAR OF "CHANGE THEIR HOLIDAY" PROMOTION THROUGH WV GAME CHANGER
Additionally Monday, Gov. Justice announced that, for the second straight year, West Virginia Game Changer will be conducting its “Change Their Holiday” promotion. Once again this year, Jobs & Hope West Virginia is joining the cause to help ensure families recovering from opioid and substance misuse are provided the financial means to enjoy a happy holiday season.

“It’s no secret that I believe our kids are the greatest treasure we have in West Virginia and we need to do everything in our power to make sure that every child experiences every joy that life has to offer,” Gov. Justice said. “One of the joys that many of our children look forward to most every year is unwrapping some great presents under the tree on Christmas morning.”
Through its Change Their Holiday promotion, in conjunction with several corporate sponsors, Game Changer will be raising money until Friday, Nov. 26, to provide families in recovery a complete holiday, down to the turkey dinner with all the fixings on Christmas Day.

Click here to read more

To read more about the Change Their Holiday promotion, or to make a donation electronically, visit WVGameChanger.com.
COVID-19 RESOURCES
SCHOOL OUTBREAK REPORT
On Monday, Gov. Justice reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are currently 56 school outbreaks in 22 counties with 646 confirmed cases.

COVID-19 Outbreaks in State Public Schools (WVDE)

A total of 53 county school systems have either face covering requirements or a criteria for requiring face coverings. Only two counties – Pocahontas and Tucker counties – do not have a face covering requirement at this time.

WV Department of Education COVID-19 Updates
WEST VIRGINIANS ENCOURAGED TO GET FLU VACCINE
With flu season getting underway, Gov. Justice and State health officials took time to encourage all West Virginians to get their flu vaccine.

According to health officials, everyone 6 months and older should receive this vaccine.

In addition to providing protection from the flu, this vaccine helps reduce the burden on hospitals and healthcare systems.

Flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines may be given at the same time.

Click here to learn more
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Contact Information

Jordan Damron, jordan.l.damron@wv.gov

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Office of the Governor
State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E
Charleston, WV 25305

Office Phone:
304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

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304.558.3588

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