COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice and State pandemic response leaders provide updates on COVID-19 death data, latest CDC guidance

3/10/2021

CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia health leaders and other officials today for his latest daily press briefing regarding the State’s COVID-19 response.

UPDATE ON COVID-19 DEATH DATA
During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) recently discovered that more than 65 healthcare facilities across West Virginia – including hospitals, nursing homes, and others – did not follow COVID-19 death reporting protocols established by the West Virginia State Health Officer and, as a result, did not properly report all the COVID-related deaths that occurred in their facilities.

“This is coming from people that passed away at home, this is coming from hospice, from our hospitals, from our nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and from our jail facilities,” Gov. Justice said.

“Every single day that I come in front of you, I want to be 100 percent transparent and always tell you the truth,” Gov. Justice continued. “I promise you, this is totally unacceptable to me and I will dig, and push our people to dig in every way, to get to the very, very bottom of this.”

CLICK HERE TO VIEW PHOTO ALBUM
DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health, through its Health Statistics Center, conducted a bi-weekly data match to examine COVID-19 associated deaths reported through death certificates, which revealed 168 COVID-19 related deaths were not reported to DHHR.

In her remarks during Wednesday’s briefing, State Health Officer and Commissioner for DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health Dr. Ayne Amjad said that the reporting errors occured in facilities in approximately 30 counties throughout West Virginia.

“These reporting protocols were established early in the pandemic and we’ve continued to remind facilities of these requirements,” Dr. Amjad said. “This practice is totally unacceptable, and these facilities must do better for the people of West Virginia.”
The vast majority (84%) of these deaths were from December 2020 and January 2021, which fits the standard timeframe in death certificate reporting.

Click here to read a full breakdown of each of these deaths, sorted by facility

Gov. Justice went on to say that he will properly honor each of the individuals who previously went recognized during his next regular COVID-19 briefing this coming Friday.

“Because I think it’s the honorable thing to do, I always list these people; their gender, the county they’re from, and their age. I always take real time to honor them and it’s exactly what we should do,” Gov. Justice said. “On Friday, I’ll read every one we missed, and I’ll do it with great honor. But, at the same time, it’s just a crying shame; that’s all there is to it.”

COVID-19 CZAR PROVIDES UPDATE ON CDC GUIDANCE
Additionally Wednesday, West Virginia COVID-19 Czar Dr. Clay Marsh, took time in his remarks to explain recent updates to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance on COVID-19 as more Americans and West Virginians begin to be vaccinated.

“For people that are fully vaccinated – people that have received two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – and are at least two weeks removed from receiving their final dose, which is the timeline that your immune system is fully activated and giving you the immune response, if you are around other people that are also fully vaccinated and two weeks out from their final dose, then everybody is okay around each other to take your masks off, to be able to be together, to hug each other,” Dr. Marsh said.

“Separately, if you are an older West Virginian who has been completely vaccinated and you’re two weeks out from your last dose, and you want to go visit your family, your grandkids, then, as long as everybody is in a low-risk setting – and that means they haven’t been around people with COVID or in high-risk areas, they’ve been wearing their mask – then you are also okay to be around each other without masks on,” Dr. Marsh continued. “If you’re with multiple people, some of whom have not been vaccinated or some of whom may have had higher risk activities, then the recommendation is that everyone should wear their mask and stay physically distanced.

“It has also been guided by the CDC that if you’re fully vaccinated and two weeks out from your last dose, and then you’re around somebody who is later diagnosed with COVID-19, you do not have to quarantine, as long as you do not develop any symptoms,” Dr. Marsh added. “If you develop symptoms, of course, you should quarantine and get tested.”

Dr. Marsh also went on to say that, despite the encouraging downward trend of COVID-19 numbers in West Virginia, all residents should still remain cautious.

“We’ve just identified our fourth case of the United Kingdom variant of the virus. We’ve identified some California variants of the virus,” Dr. Marsh said. “We’re not seeing the explosive growth in these variants as some other states are. But it is a reminder to us that we constantly need to be vigilant and making sure that we are caring for ourselves and getting vaccinated when it’s our turn.”

VACCINE DISTRIBUTION UPDATE
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that West Virginia remains among the national leaders in the rate of COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration.

As of Monday morning, 12.2% of West Virginia's entire population has received both doses of the vaccines; a rate so high that, if West Virginia were its own country, it would rank as the 12th-best rate of any nation in the world.

West Virginia has successfully administered 565,669 doses after receiving a total allotment of 583,230 doses from the federal government to date; an overall administration rate of 97.0%.

West Virginia currently boasts a first dose administration rate of 100.1%, which exceeds 100% due to extra doses being extracted from vials of the vaccine, and a second dose administration rate of 92.5%.
  • First doses: 346,363 administered / 346,100 allotted
  • Second doses: 219,306 administered / 237,130 allotted
West Virginia COVID-19 Dashboard (Click “Vaccine Summary” tab)
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, and all West Virginians age 16 and older with certain pre-existing medical conditions.
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, 198,835 West Virginians age 65 and older have chosen to be vaccinated, including 116,339 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 will be held in all 55 counties across West Virginia once again 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. To date, more than 362,000 West Virginians have signed up to be added to the pre-registration list.
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 Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Gilmer, Grant, McDowell, Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Tucker, Tyler, Webster, Wirt, and Wyoming counties. The Governor urged West Virginians in these counties with friends and family age 65 and older to help these individuals get pre-registered.

COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS UPDATE
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that the current number of active cases in the state is now 5,360, down from 5,613 as of his previous COVID-19 briefing on Monday.

The number of daily active cases in West Virginia has now decreased for 53 straight days, as well as 57 of the past 58 days.

The number of active hospitalizations remains 178. Of those currently hospitalized, 54 patients are in the ICU, up from 41 such patients on Monday.

The cumulative percent of positive cases has decreased to 5.36%, down from 5.38% on Monday.

Click here to view the latest COVID-19 data

WEDNESDAY MAP UPDATE
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice provided a look at West Virginia’s latest mid-week County Alert System map update.

The map is updated live on the DHHR’s COVID-19 Dashboard (Click "County Alert System" tab) throughout the week.

Red counties: 0
Orange counties: 5
Gold counties: 5
Yellow counties: 12
Green counties: 33

OUTBREAK REPORT
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now three active church-related outbreaks in West Virginia. These outbreaks are located in Monongalia, Nicholas, and Raleigh counties and account for a total of 27 cases, up from four such cases as of the Governor’s previous COVID-19 briefing on Monday.

There are now five outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state, down from seven such outbreaks on Monday.

The Governor also reported that there are now 223 inmate cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) system, down from 265 on Monday. Meanwhile, there are now 13 active staff cases across the DCR system, up from 11 on Monday. To view the latest DCR case update, click here.

AGGRESSIVE TESTING CONTINUES ACROSS STATE
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice provided an overview of the 52 counties across the state that have free testing events scheduled through the Governor’s Aggressive Testing initiative.
This testing is available to all residents, including asymptomatic individuals. Proof of insurance is not required. Attendees should bring identification, such as a driver’s license or proof of address, to help in returning test results. Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

An interactive online map of all free testing locations across West Virginia is available online. Users can filter the map by type of testing site, including daily testing events, recurring testing events, as well as Walgreens and Fruth Pharmacy testing locations. Users can also filter by county. Each location is marked on the map with a pin. After finding a testing location nearby, users are able to click on the pin for more information about that particular testing site, including the specific location and timeframe during which testing will be held.

Click here to view all locations, dates, times, and more details

GOV. JUSTICE CONGRATULATES INAUGURAL GRADUATING CLASS OF CADETS FROM MOUNTAINEER CHALLENGE ACADEMY SOUTH
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks about COVID-19 to congratulate the 50 cadets who tomorrow will make up the first ever class of graduates at the new Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy South, located in Montgomery.

“It is amazing,” Gov. Justice said. “If you could just visit and see how these young people are succeeding through this program. They may be having issues that are going on in their lives, but they’re getting rid of those issues and they’re becoming wonderful individuals and productive members of society. As Governor, I congratulate them in every way.”

MCA South is the second National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program to open in West Virginia. It provides educational opportunities for at-risk youth, ages 16-18, in a 22-week quasi-military residential program focused on eight core components. In addition, the Mountaineer Job ChalleNGe Program is available on the campus for cadets or recent graduates who want to earn industry-recognized certifications in fields such as manufacturing, medical technician, pre-apprenticeship, energy sector, and more. 

Additionally, graduates of the MCA South campus will be able to earn their high school diploma from their home high school through the pathways option approved by the West Virginia Department of Education.

“These people have decided; maybe they were on a pathway that wasn’t that good,” Gov. Justice said. “This is the pathway they needed to be on. These people made a decision that was tough, and, at the end of the day, now they’re on a path to goodness. I congratulate them from the bottom of my heart.”

Gov. Justice first announced plans to fund a second MCA location, replicating the successful original model at Camp Dawson in Preston County, during his 2020 State of the State address. Then, in October, the Governor announced that the MCA South had officially opened for its inaugural class of cadets.

GOVERNOR PROCLAIMS WEST VIRGINIA ARTS DAY
Also, Gov. Justice took time to announce that he has signed a proclamation, officially declaring today as West Virginia Arts Day in recognition of the importance of the arts to the culture and history of the Mountain State.

“There could have been a time that people were asking us to cut a lot of things and we could have absolutely lost our arts department,” Gov. Justice said. “Well just imagine this, in West Virginia’s arts and cultural industries, there are 17,250 workers with wages totaling over $900 million. They add $1.5 billion to our state’s economy each year, and the arts and creative occupations represent 19 percent of West Virginia’s workforce.

“Now you tell me, should we not absolutely be proud of our own pond?” Gov. Justice continued. “When we were right on the verge of maybe cutting, we didn’t do it, and we have pumped more money into our arts and culture. I celebrate this great day because this is us being proud of our own pond.”

Click here to view proclamation

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Click here to view all Executive Orders and other actions taken by Gov. Justice to combat the spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia.

For more information about COVID-19 prevention and more, call the State’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-887-4304 or visit Coronavirus.wv.gov.

Contact Information

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

Contact

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

Office Phone:
304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

Governor's Mansion:
304.558.3588

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Banner Images Courtesy of the West Virginia Department of Commerce

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