COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice honors West Virginians lost to COVID-19 after DHHR death data updated

3/12/2021

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.

GOVERNOR HONORS LIVES LOST TO COVID-19 FOLLOWING DHHR DATA UPDATE
During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice took time to honor 165 West Virginians who had passed away from COVID-19 over the previous several months, but whose deaths were not properly reported by several healthcare facilities across the state to the West Virginia DHHR as being COVID-related.

The Governor announced the DHHR’s discovery during his previous briefing on Wednesday, less than one hour after first being made aware of the discrepancy himself.

“This situation is totally unacceptable to me in every way,” Gov. Justice said on Friday. “We owe these people all the respect in the world, and I'm honored to be able to read through all these deaths, because we owe these great people that.”

CLICK HERE TO VIEW PHOTO ALBUM
The Governor then read the ages, genders, and home counties of each of the individuals affected.

“I hate like crazy that mistakes were made and loved ones were not respected like they should have been,” Gov. Justice said. “I do not understand the mistakes, nor do I think they’re acceptable, but it was an honor reading those people and I ask that you’ll please keep all of them in your prayers and reach out to these families and let them know how much you love them.”

The Governor said that 84% of these deaths occurred in the months of December 2020 and January 2021.

After a quality assurance review, the DHHR updated the number of improperly reported deaths to 165 from a preliminary count of 168 on Wednesday.

Click here to read more on the DHHR’s quality assurance review process

The DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health will be investigating each non-reported death to determine what occurred.

“We do want to reassure everyone that we are going to take the time to go through the death certificates with the facilities to make sure that these are fully-vetted properly going forward,” said State Health Officer and Commissioner for DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health Dr. Ayne Amjad. “We also want to make sure that we’re very transparent with the public; to make sure that we’re properly reporting the information to the public accurately. Getting proper information to the public and being transparent is what we strive for, and we also want to make sure that we get this out there as quickly as possible.”

GOVERNOR COMMEMORATES SEVERAL SIGNIFICANT COVID-19 RESPONSE ANNIVERSARIES 
Also, Gov. Justice made mention that Friday and Saturday mark the one-year anniversaries of several notable moments in West Virginia’s early pandemic response efforts.

“We’re at the one-year anniversaries of when I announced that we were closing our schools. I also closed the state high school basketball tournament, restricted visitation to our nursing homes, and mobilized the West Virginia National Guard to respond to this COVID-19 pandemic,” Gov. Justice said. “I could never be more grateful to all the people that have stepped up and shown their leadership, their bravery, their courage, and their dedication to their state and their jobs. All the great work the National Guard, our great healthcare community, our first responders, and so many others have done is amazing.”

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

As of Wednesday afternoon, 13.0% 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 13th-best rate of any nation in the world.

West Virginia has successfully administered 603,783 doses after receiving a total allotment of 656,270 doses from the federal government to date; an overall administration rate of 92.0%.

West Virginia currently boasts a first dose administration rate of 95.7% and a second dose administration rate of 86.6%.
  • First doses: 371,420 administered / 388,000 allotted
  • Second doses: 232,363 administered / 268,270 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, 207,169 West Virginians age 65 and older have chosen to be vaccinated, including 126,300 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 either already have been or will be held in all 55 counties across West Virginia 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 373,000 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 Friday, Gov. Justice reported that the current number of active cases in the state is now 5,280, down from 5,360 as of his previous COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.

The number of daily active cases in West Virginia has now decreased for 55 straight days, as well as 59 of the past 60 days.

The number of active hospitalizations is now 159, down from 178 on Wednesday. Of those currently hospitalized, 59 patients are in the ICU, up from 54 such patients on Wednesday.

The cumulative percent of positive cases is now 5.34%, down from 5.36% 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: 0
Orange counties: 6
Gold counties: 6
Yellow counties: 9
Green counties: 34

OUTBREAK REPORT
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice reported that there remain 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.

There are now just three outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state, down from five such outbreaks as of the Governor’s previous COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.

The Governor also reported that there are now 137 inmate cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) system, down significantly from 223 on Wednesday. Meanwhile, there are now 15 active staff cases across the DCR system, up from 13 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 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

NEW WEST VIRGINIA VACATION GUIDE CELEBRATES 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF “TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS”
Also, Gov. Justice took time to offer a reminder that yesterday he unveiled the new West Virginia Vacation Guide, a travel inspiration magazine dedicated to promoting Almost Heaven, West Virginia.

This year’s guide is a special edition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

To request a copy of the special edition West Vi​rginia Vacation Guide, visit WVtourism.com.

Work on the 2021 Vacation Guide had already begun prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the guide’s focus shifted slightly as new travel trends emerged showing the post-COVID traveler’s strong desire for road trips, outdoor recreation, and crowd-free small towns. These trends align with not only the experiences West Virginia has to offer visitors, but also the anniversary of Denver’s beloved tune. The new guide focuses heavily on road trips across the Mountain State.

“This guide will be used over the next year to attract more and more people to visit West Virginia and see all that we have to offer,” Gov. Justice said. “As we continue to vaccinate our people, and as our country continues to open back up and people feel safe to travel, where do we want them to come? We want them to come to West Virginia.”

Click here to read more

GOV. JUSTICE HOSTS FIFTH VIRTUAL TOWN HALL ON PLAN TO REPEAL STATE INCOME TAX
Additionally, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to offer a reminder that yesterday he held his fifth virtual town hall to answer West Virginians’ questions about his Personal Income Tax Repeal Plan.

Click here to watch Thursday’s full town hall
The Governor’s plan is designed to seize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform West Virginia’s tax structure; raising wages, raising home values, bringing in more businesses, more people, and making life better for all West Virginians. The proposal would also put more money in every West Virginian’s pocket on day one.

Click here to view informational packet
Additional virtual town hall events will be held in the coming weeks to field more questions about Gov. Justice’s Personal Income Tax Repeal Proposal.

All West Virginians are encouraged to watch the live stream of the virtual town hall on the Governor’s social media accounts:
YouTube | Twitter | Facebook

You can also submit a question and watch all of the Governor’s previous virtual town halls on the Governor’s website.

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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