COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice: Over 1,000 health professional students from West Virginia’s colleges and universities to assist with vaccine rollout

4/2/2021

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.

HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENTS TO HELP WITH VACCINE ROLLOUT THROUGH NEW “WV VACS” TEAM
During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that more than 1,000 health professional students from colleges and universities across the state have volunteered to help further bolster West Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout efforts.

These students – members of the all-new West Virginia Vaccine Administration, Collaboration, and Support (WV VACS) Team – will receive training to support vaccination clinics. The initiative is a partnership between the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, the West Virginia National Guard, and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR).

“This is really, really great stuff,” Gov. Justice said. “Our higher ed folks are stepping up. Our students are stepping up; they’re getting on-the-job training. We thank them in every way.”
To date, more than 1,000 students from 32 health sciences programs across West Virginia have opted in to help with vaccination clinics throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Since March 17, 2021, the WV VACS Team has already deployed 112 students to assist with clinics.

The remaining students are currently in the training process and will be deployed to communities throughout the state in the coming weeks.

Prior to working in communities, students complete an online curriculum that is designed to enhance their knowledge about COVID-19 vaccines and their administration. Once fully trained, groups of students work under supervision with local health providers to give vaccines and support data entry. Higher education institutions determine whether students participate in this voluntary program for either course credit or community service.

Click here to read more

VACCINE DISTRIBUTION UPDATE
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice reported that West Virginia has now successfully administered 861,394 doses after receiving a total allotment of 930,090 doses from the federal government to date; an overall administration rate of 92.6%.

West Virginia currently boasts a first dose administration rate of 98.5% and a second dose administration rate of 85.0%.
  • First doses: 518,543 administered / 526,570 allotted
  • Second doses: 342,851 administered / 403,520 allotted
West Virginia COVID-19 Dashboard (Click “Vaccine Summary” tab)
Vaccinations are now available to all West Virginians age 16 and older. However, 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.

The Governor provided a reminder of his announcement that, at his direction, the Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) has established three fixed-location vaccination clinics in Berkeley, Kanawha, and Monongalia counties to ensure that every West Virginian age 65 and older has access to a vaccine.

To date, 239,726 West Virginians age 65 and older have chosen to be vaccinated – over 72% of West Virginia’s population in this age range – including 189,019 who are now fully vaccinated.

Any West Virginians age 65 and older are urged to pre-register for an appointment by visiting vaccinate.wv.gov or calling 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.
The Governor also offered a reminder of the announcement Monday that Walmart and additional independent pharmacies are beginning to receive doses of COVID-19 vaccines, joining Walgreens and the Med Shoppe/Leader network of pharmacies as part of the federal pharmacy partnership in West Virginia.

West Virginians can go to vaccinefinder.org for assistance in locating and securing an appointment at one of these federal pharmacy partners.
The JIATF continues to reach out to manufacturers and businesses across the state to increase vaccine access for employees and their families choosing to be vaccinated by organizing vaccination clinics at these facilities.

Additionally, church leaders are still being urged to contact the JIATF for help organizing vaccination clinics for interested members of their congregations.

Anyone interested in organizing one of these vaccination clinics is asked to contact the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965.

COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS UPDATE
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice reported that the current number of active cases in the state is now 6,642, up from 6,278 as of his previous COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.

The number of active hospitalizations is now 244, up from 237 on Wednesday. Of those currently hospitalized, 81 patients are in the ICU, up from 80 such patients on Wednesday.

The cumulative percent of positive cases is now 5.25%, down from 5.26% on Wednesday.

Click here to view the latest COVID-19 data

FRIDAY MAP UPDATE
Also on Friday, 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: 3
Orange counties: 6
Gold counties: 6
Yellow counties: 7
Green counties: 33

OUTBREAK REPORT
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now seven active church-related outbreaks in West Virginia, up from six such outbreaks as of his previous COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday. The active outbreaks are located in Fayette, Harrison, Kanawha, Nicholas, and Raleigh counties and account for a total of a total of 93 cases, up from 82 such cases on Wednesday.

There are now eight active outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state, up from four such outbreaks on Wednesday.

The Governor also reported that there are now nine inmate cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) system, up from three such cases on Wednesday. Meanwhile, there are now 13 active staff cases across the DCR system, up from 12 such cases on Wednesday. To view the latest DCR case update, click here.

AGGRESSIVE TESTING CONTINUES ACROSS STATE
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice provided an overview of the 51 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

ALL BUSINESSES MUST CONTINUE TO FOLLOW COVID-19 SAFETY GUIDELINES
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice took time to provide a reminder that all businesses in West Virginia must continue to follow all applicable COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Click here to view all active guidance documents

FACE COVERING REQUIREMENT REMAINS IN EFFECT
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice provided a reminder that his Statewide Indoor Face Covering Requirement remains in effect.

All West Virginians age 9 and older to wear a face covering at all times inside all indoor public places, regardless of whether or not they are able to maintain proper social distance. The order requires that all businesses and organizations that invite the public into their facilities must post adequate signage advising guests of the requirement and are also responsible for enforcing the requirement to ensure it is being followed.

Click here to read more details about the face covering requirement

Posters are available on the DHHR’s online Face Covering Toolkit for businesses or organizations to print and display. Social media graphics are also available for download and use by the general public.

DONATE BLOOD AND PLASMA
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice once again encouraged all West Virginians to consider donating blood and plasma through the American Red Cross.

Those fully recovered from a verified COVID-19 diagnosis may have plasma in their blood containing COVID-19 antibodies that can attack this virus. This plasma may be able to be used as a treatment for currently ill COVID-19 patients.

For more information, visit redcross.org or call the local American Red Cross offices at 304-340-3650.

GOV. JUSTICE ANNOUNCES $27.4M REVENUE SURPLUS FOR MARCH; CALLS SUMMIT TO DISCUSS PERSONAL INCOME TAX REPEAL PLAN
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to announce that West Virginia’s general revenue collections for the month of March 2021 came in at $27.4 million above estimates and 3.6% above prior year receipts, closing the books on yet another positive financial month, despite the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the state’s economy.

“West Virginia is continuing to pump out surplus after surplus. We’ve almost become numb to good revenue numbers,” Gov. Justice said. “I’ve said over and over that, other than looking after the health and safety of all West Virginians, my number one job is to ‘mind the store’ – to look after the economics of our state because, if we get the economics right, we’re able to provide more and more services for our people.”
West Virginia has now banked surpluses in eight of the first nine months of Fiscal Year 2021.

Gov. Justice reported that year-to-date general revenue collections are $235.4 million above estimates and 4.8% above prior year receipts.

Click here to read March 2021 revenue report
“We have West Virginia trending exactly the way West Virginia should trend,” Gov. Justice said. “This is why, with the world looking at West Virginia right now because of how we’ve handled the pandemic, we have got to do something about changing our image to the world.
“Right this minute is our time to put us on a pathway to eliminating our personal income tax,” Gov. Justice continued. “If we wait, we’re going to lose the spotlight that’s on West Virginia right now. We can’t afford to wait.”

Click here for more information on Gov. Justice’s plan to repeal the personal income tax

Gov. Justice went on to announce that, on Monday next week, he will be hosting a summit with several West Virginia legislators – including leaders of the majority and minority parties in both the West Virginia Senate and the West Virginia House of Delegates, as well as the chairs of the senate and house finance committees – to discuss how to best approach the repeal of the personal income tax.

“This is the most important item that has come across West Virginia‘s desk in forever,” Gov. Justice said. “Now we need to figure out how to put a plan into action and make it to where we can get this thing across the finish line for the people of this great state.”

The Governor’s summit will be held at the State Culture Center and is currently scheduled to begin at 12:00 p.m. on Monday, April 5, 2021.

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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