COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice once again urges vaccinations and booster shots: “We’re right in the eye of the storm.”


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.
During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice reported that the state’s total number of active cases has continued to drop. However, as expected, the number of West Virginians in the hospital with severe cases continues to hold near peak levels for now.

There are now 13,344 active cases statewide; down more than 1,100 cases since the Governor’s previous briefing on Monday.

The active case count is down by 16,400 cases since peaking just 12 days ago, dropping more than 55% in less than two weeks.

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“There’s every reason to believe we’re right in the eye of the storm. We’re right at the peak of the surge right now,” Gov. Justice said. “I keep reminding everybody all across this wonderful state that the way we can curb this once and for all is by getting vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, the state continues to see a small downward trend in the number of COVID-related hospitalizations, dropping to 974 from 978 on Monday.

The number of patients in ICUs has once again set a new all-time peak of 298. However, the number of patients on ventilators has dropped slightly to 187 from 193 on Monday.

State health experts say that, with the overall case count dropping, the number of severe cases should begin declining as well in the weeks ahead.

The statewide death toll from COVID-19 has reached 3,642, with 74 more deaths being reported since the Governor's previous briefing on Monday, 38 of which were as a result of the DHHR’s reconciliation process with official death certificates.

The County Alert System map continues to show slow but steady improvement. A total of 45 of the state’s 55 counties are in either the highest-risk Red category or one step below in the Orange category. However, the map now features four counties in the Green category.
“Our young people need to get vaccinated,” Gov. Justice said. “The weather is going to get bad soon and we’re going to stay inside. With this Delta variant being highly infectious and us being inside, the likelihood of unvaccinated kids ending up with COVID is pretty dadgum high, and the possibility of adverse effects from COVID on our kids is real.

“If you’re a parent, I just don’t see how in the world you don’t decide to get your kids vaccinated,” Gov. Justice continued. “Even if you choose not to get vaccinated yourself, your kids depend on you. This vaccine is incredibly safe and it will help all of us.”
With the percentage of fully vaccinated residents hospitalized for COVID-19 slowly creeping higher in recent weeks, Gov. Justice took time during his briefing Wednesday to encourage all West Virginians to determine if they qualify for a booster dose and then get one if they are eligible.

“We continue to see a slow rise in the rate of people that are hospitalized who were vaccinated,” Gov. Justice said. “What does that tell us? It tells us that the vaccine is wearing off, and if you can get that booster shot, it’s what you should be doing.”

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 last week 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)
On Friday last week, Gov. Justice announced that pandemic response teams were already on the move getting booster shots to at-risk residents following their long-awaited federal approval.

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.
“Our boosters are open. Take advantage, West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “It will also help take some level of stress off of our hospitals. We do not want to get in a situation where we’ve overloaded our hospitals and we can’t even take care of people that are having heart attacks or strokes or whatever it may be.”
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are currently 72 school outbreaks in 26 counties with 831 confirmed cases.

COVID-19 Outbreaks in State Public Schools (WVDE)

A total of 54 county school systems have either face covering requirements or a criteria for requiring face coverings. Only one county – Pocahontas County – does not have a face covering requirement at this time.

WV Department of Education COVID-19 Updates
There is now just one active outbreak associated with a church throughout West Virginia. The church is located in Wayne County.

Meanwhile, there are now 77 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state.

Additionally, there are now 260 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.
This week is the final week to register 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 224,000 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 (Final two weeks feature 2021 Corvettes)
  • 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. 30.

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 Wednesday, Gov. Justice reminded West Virginia Grandfamilies 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.
With flu season just around the corner, Gov. Justice and State health officials took time Wednesday 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.
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Jordan Damron,


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