COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice announces “Saving Our Care” initiative to ensure stability of hospitals and nursing homes through Delta peak


Saving Our Care will provide financial and staffing support to these facilities to avoid the need for rationing care
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.
Following Gov. Justice’s Breakfast Roundtable Summit with his Pandemic Leadership Team Monday morning at the Governor’s Mansion in Charleston, Gov. Justice announced during his COVID-19 briefing that the State will be implementing a new initiative called “Saving Our Care” to ensure the stability of hospitals and nursing homes as the current surge in cases brought on by the Delta variant begins to peak.

“Our hospitals are on the verge of being overrun to the point where, if we don’t act right now, we could awaken to a situation where we’re basically rationing care,” Gov. Justice said. “Now we’re not there right at this moment. But we should all realize that we are now at a point in time where we are reaching a crisis.”
“So, just like when we started our ‘Saving Our Wisdom’ effort, we are now going to spin off that and start a new initiative called ‘Saving Our Care,’” Gov. Justice continued. “We’re going to make every effort in the world to avoid getting to the point where we are talking about rationing care.”

Saving Our Care will provide staffing assistance and financial help to hospitals and long-term care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living facilities to keep workforce levels up. The program will also provide financial assistance to hospitals that have to defer elective procedures.

“As we approach and pass the peak of this surge, our hospitals are being taxed to the limit,” Gov. Justice said. “If they need to start eliminating elective surgeries, and we do nothing, that would really destroy the economics of our hospitals.”

The initiative will also include 24/7 monitoring and communication with hospital leaders, including a statewide monitoring system for all hospitals and long-term care facilities.

“We’ve got the dollars available,” Gov. Justice said. “And if we get to the point where we have exhausted those dollars, we’ll surely call the Legislature back in and get approval to do even more.”

The Governor added that with case numbers now on the decline for the first time in months, and with hospitalizations and deaths expected to soon begin decreasing as well, he hopes the Saving Our Care initiative will only need to be in place for the next three to six weeks.

“I think the Governor’s commitment to support those facilities, so not only can we take care of all people with COVID-19, but as the Governor said, it’s also important that we have our hospital beds available for people with strokes, heart attacks, motor vehicle accidents, and bad infections, because when when hospitals get overwhelmed, then those elements start to suffer too,” State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh said. “We’ve seen two states in the country – Idaho and Alaska – that have rationed care, and we certainly, as a leadership group, and certainly under the Governor’s direction, we are committed to making sure that will not happen here in West Virginia.”
Meanwhile Monday, Gov. Justice announced that, for the first time in two-and-a-half months, West Virginia has seen a significant decline in the number of active cases of COVID-19 statewide.

There are now 21,490 active cases; down more than 8,200 (27.8%) cases in just three days since the Governor’s previous briefing on Friday last week.

COVID-19 Dashboard |

“We just drifted down over the weekend. It is showing us every sign that we’re passing the peak of this surge,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re not through this yet. But nevertheless, we’ll take it.”
West Virginia also saw small decreases in the number of hospitalizations (955; down from a peak of 957 on Sunday) and the number of patients on ventilators (164; down from a peak of 168 on Friday). The state did set a new record high number of patients in ICUs with 292, however this number only surpassed the previous peak by one.

“We’re close to that peak today,” West Virginia Joint Interagency Task Force Director Jim Hoyer said. “But what people need to understand is that our historic data shows us – not just in West Virginia, but nationally – after you hit that peak of cases, you still have somewhere between two to four, and maybe even six weeks of hospitalization increases and death increases. So we’ve got to be cognizant of that fact.”
The statewide death toll from COVID-19 reached 3,424 on Monday, with 54 more deaths being reported since the Governor's previous briefing on Friday last week.

Over 82% of West Virginians who are hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated and over 87% of those in ICUs and on ventilators due to COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

“If you will just get vaccinated, you can’t imagine the protection level that you have,” Gov. Justice said. “We continue to preach the same message about getting vaccinated because it’s the only tool in the toolbox that we have right now.”

Meanwhile, the County Alert System map now shows that 52 of the state’s 55 counties are now in either the highest-risk Red category or one step below in the Orange category.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is fully FDA-approved for the prevention of COVID-19 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 explained that following his previous briefing Friday afternoon, an FDA advisory committee voted to recommend Emergency Use Authorization of an additional shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for all citizens ages 65 and older at least six months after being fully vaccinated.

That same committee, however, voted against recommending use of an additional shot for all vaccine-eligible Americans.

The full bodies of both the FDA and the CDC are meeting this week to determine whether to officially approve the committee’s recommendation and to clarify specifics of the authorization.

“We’re ready to go,” Gov. Justice said. “As soon as they’re approved, we’ll be standing there ready to put shots in arms, just as we’ve done before, leading the nation.”

The Governor and Dr. Marsh went on to discuss a proposal to study antibody levels of vaccinated West Viriginians ages 50-64.

“If you’re in this age range, we need to get you in and test those antibodies to where we can start plugging in information to where we can be making cases to get you the booster shot as well,” Gov. Justice said.

“By enhancing our ability to look at antibody levels in this population, it will be helpful because, if their antibody levels are not measurable or very low, then we want to make sure that we have that ability to re-immunize anybody who fits any category, because we know from Israel and other countries that being able to do that third dose or a booster dose is really important to increase the number of antibodies that fight COVID-19,” Dr. Marsh said.
Additionally Monday, Gov. Justice offered a reminder of his announcement Friday that access to monoclonal antibody treatments has been expanded across the state.

Antibody distribution has been bolstered to numerous pharmacies, community health centers, and local health departments throughout the state.

Distribution has already expanded to over 30 counties and will expand to all counties as quickly as possible.

The West Virginia Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) will be working directly with health organizations to stand up clinics to provide these life-saving treatments.

“We continue to make progress with our distribution process for the monoclonal antibodies,” Hoyer said. “More locations have signed up to be a part of that.”

Hoyer reiterated that the antibodies are not a replacement for the vaccine in terms of preventing COVID-19. Rather, they can serve as a life-saving treatment for individuals already infected.

“We know that people that are at highest risk of having severe COVID problems can get the monoclonal antibodies early and significantly reduce that risk,” Dr. Marsh said. “So we’re starting to centralize our monoclonal antibody ordering and implementation so that we can infuse people with these antibodies on any day.”
On Monday, Gov. Justice reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are currently 88 school outbreaks in 34 counties with 804 confirmed cases.

One county school system – Preston County – is currently closed due to COVID-19. All other schools remain open.

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. The other two counties – Pocahontas and Putnam counties – do not have face covering requirements at this time.

WV Department of Education COVID-19 Updates
There are now four active outbreaks associated with churches throughout West Virginia. The churches are located in Braxton, Monroe, Raleigh, and Wayne counties.

Additionally, there are now 82 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state.

Meanwhile, there are now 228 active inmate cases and 66 active staff cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation system. To view the latest DCR case update, click here.
Online registration is now open for Round 2 of the “Do it for Babydog: Save a life, Change your life” Vaccination Sweepstakes.

All West Virginians who have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can register at for an opportunity to join the list of winners. Over 214,000 West Virginians have already registered for Round 2 of the sweepstakes.

*Those who previously registered for Round 1 of the vaccination sweepstakes are required to register again to be eligible for Round 2*
Each week, five vaccinated West Virginia students ages 12-25 will win a full four-year scholarship to any public college or university in the state, including room and board, tuition, and books; a prize valued at over $100,000.

Additional weekly prizes for vaccinated West Virginians ages 18+ include:
  • Luxury high-end sports car
  • Custom fishing or pontoon boat
  • $150,000 toward the wedding of your dreams
  • Free gas for 10 years
  • WVU football or basketball season ticket package for two
  • Marshall football or basketball season ticket package for two
  • 2021-2022 season passes for two to a ski resort in West Virginia
  • Premium ATV or side-by-side
  • Top-of-the-line zero turn lawn mower
The next set of prize winners will be announced this Thursday, Sept. 23.

While the registration deadline to be eligible for this week's giveaway has passed, vaccinated West Virginians are still able to register for future drawings.

Prize drawings will be held weekly, with winners being announced each Thursday through Oct. 7.
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice reminded West Virginia Granfamilies that registration is now underway for the Healthy Grandfamilies vaccination incentive program.

The program offers a $150 voucher for back-to-school supplies to all vaccinated grandfamilies in West Virginia – families where grandparents are the primary caregivers for their grandchildren.
To qualify, all vaccine-eligible members of the grandfamily, including grandparents and grandchildren ages 12 and older, must have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The family must also be enrolled in West Virginia State University’s Healthy Grandfamilies program. Enroll at

Healthy Grandfamilies, which provides information and resources to grandparents who are raising one or more grandchildren, is assisting in the administration of the school voucher incentive. According to the organization, about 19,000 West Virginia children live in households with a grandparent or grandparents as their primary caregiver.
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