COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice urges boosters, says those 6 months removed from initial dose “may be no better off than those who never got vaccinated”


CareSource presents $25,000 check for West Virginia Communities In Schools

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 Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice once again pleaded for more West Virginians who have already received their initial series of COVID-19 vaccine doses to seek out a booster shot as soon as possible.

“You have got to get that booster shot,” Gov. Justice said. “Our medical experts would look right at you and say if you’re six months out from your initial vaccines, and you have not gotten your booster shot, you may be no better off than those who never got vaccinated.”
“We have had 1,072,338 West Virginians get their first shot. But we only have 48,893 that have received their booster shot,” Gov. Justice continued. “We’re sitting at less than 5% of vaccinated people that have gotten their booster shot. We’re making progress, but it’s just too slow.”

West Virginia Joint Interagency Task Force Director Jim Hoyer echoed the Governor’s sentiment.

“Based on the information put out by the CDC and FDA, most all West Virginians age 18 and above are now eligible for a booster and we encourage everyone to get a booster,” Hoyer said. “Based on the data that we have, we have an additional increase of vaccinated patients in the hospital and we know that we must get that turned around.”
There are now booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. 

Per the latest CDC recommendations, individuals who received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for a booster shot if it has been at least six months since they completed their initial series of shots and they fall into at least one of the following groups: For individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.
Per the CDC, eligible individuals now may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

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.
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice reminded all West Virginians that online registration is now open for the third round of the ​​”Do it for Babydog: Save a life, Change your life” vaccination sweepstakes.

Do it for Babydog: Round 3 is focused on educating children and their parents on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine and the importance of getting West Virginia’s youngest residents vaccinated.

This round of the sweepstakes is open to all West Virginians ages 5-18 who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Children ages 5-17 must have parental consent to be vaccinated and to register.
This round of the sweepstakes will feature four weeks of prize giveaways.

The giveaway schedule will begin the week of Nov. 15, before taking a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday. Giveaways will resume the week of Nov. 29 and continue through the week of Dec. 6 and the week of Dec. 13.

The giveaway will include the following prizes each week:
  • 25 Prizes of a $10,000 Educational Savings Fund
  • 100 Lifetime Hunting and Fishing Licenses
  • 1 Grand Prize Educational Savings Fund for a student
  • 1 Grand Prize check and party for a school

Weeks 1-3
  • Student: One student per week will receive a $50,000 Educational Savings Fund.
  • School: One school per week will receive a $50,000 check and will host a party with Gov. Justice and Babydog. These events will include an on-site vaccine clinic and opening remarks by a doctor to talk about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

Week 4
  • Student: One student will receive a $100,000 Educational Savings Fund.
  • School: One school will receive a $100,000 check and will host a special holiday party with Santa (Gov. Justice) and his reindeer (Babydog) bringing presents for students. This event will also include an on-site vaccine clinic and opening remarks by a doctor to talk about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.
The Educational Savings Fund prizes will be in the form of a 529 plan, managed by the State Treasurer’s Office, which will be invested and grow over time. The fund can be used for any educational-related expenses, not just higher education.

*Those who previously registered for Round 1 and/or Round 2 of the vaccination sweepstakes are required to register again to be eligible for Round 3*

Online registration to be eligible to win in the first prize drawing of Round 3 will remain open until Sunday, Nov. 14, at 11:59 p.m. EST. Winners will be announced the week of Nov. 15.

Last week, the CDC officially recommended Pfizer-BioNTech’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for use by children ages 5-11. Click here to read the CDC’s full guidance on COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens.

Free COVID-19 vaccinations are currently available to all West Virginians ages 5 and older.

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.
On Friday, Gov. Justice reported that 6,727 active cases of COVID-19 statewide; up by 612 cases since the Governor’s previous briefing on Wednesday.

Despite the increase over the past two days, the active case count is down overall by 23,017 cases since peaking in mid-September, a drop of 77.4% in that time.

COVID-19 Dashboard |

Meanwhile, the state continues to see a steady downward trend in the number of severe COVID cases.

The number of hospitalizations, patients in ICUs, and patients on ventilators have all dropped between 41.6% and 55.4% since peaking in the final week of September.

The number of hospitalizations is now 531; down by 9 over the past week. Since peaking at 1,012, hospitalizations have dropped by 481 (47.5%).

The number of patients in ICUs is now 173; down by 26 over the past week. Since peaking at 296, the number of patients in ICUs has dropped overall by 123 (41.6%).

The number of patients on ventilators is now 87; down by 18 over the past week. Since peaking at 195, the number of patients on ventilators has dropped by 108 (55.4%).

The County Alert System map now features 8 green counties, 5 yellow counties, 5 gold counties, 23 orange counties, and 14 red counties.
Gov. Justice also reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are currently 37 school outbreaks in 17 counties with 587 confirmed cases.

COVID-19 Outbreaks in State Public Schools (WVDE)
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks about COVID-19, along with First Lady Cathy Justice, to welcome officials with healthcare company CareSource, who announced that they are donating $25,000 to benefit West Virginia’s Communities In Schools (CIS) program.

“This is a great announcement today by a fabulous organization that’s coming in and wanting to support Communities In Schools because they believe in what we’re doing,” Gov. Justice said. “This $25,000 will go a long way toward helping real people and especially helping our kids.”
CIS aims to forge community partnerships and bring resources into schools to help remove barriers to student learning with a goal of keeping all students in school and ultimately graduating.

“It is with great honor that CareSource is able to make available this $25,000 resource towards Communities In Schools,” said Kevin Everwine, Associate Vice President of CareSource. “It really aligns very closely with the initiatives that we're doing, looking at a more holistic approach. So sincerely, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for everything that you’re doing.”
Gov. Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice started CIS in three counties in 2018. Since then, the program has expanded to 31 counties, serving more than 70,000 students in 171 schools across the state.

“What a statement it makes to our kids in West Virginia that our Governor and First Lady care so much about them and are so involved in this,” said Kathy Oplinger, Manager of CareSource WV Marketplace. “It will make a big difference for our kids. We know that and we're happy to be a part of it.”
“Communities In Schools is absolutely off-the-charts good,” Gov. Justice said. “I say it all the time, but if you have an opportunity to reach out and impact a child's life, or maybe even their parents or whomever it may be, it really means something. It’s just what we're supposed to do. So, again, I really and truly thank CareSource for their incredible contribution.”
Gov. Justice also took time to recap his visit yesterday to Buffalo, WV, where he hosted a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the final 14.6-mile section of four-lane U.S. Route 35.

“If you missed our grand opening ceremony for Route 35 yesterday, you really missed something phenomenal,” Gov. Justice said during his briefing Friday. "The project went on for 53 years. But, thanks to the Roads to Prosperity program, we were finally able to finish it all the way through.”
Completion of the project will now allow travelers to utilize a safe highway to accommodate increased traffic demands in the area. Motorists will be able to drive on smooth, four-lane pavement for 37 consecutive miles, beginning at the Interstate 64 exit at Scott Depot and continuing straight through to Point Pleasant and the Ohio state line, heading toward Columbus.
“It opens a corridor for development and all kinds of possibilities to come into West Virginia. And with it being a four-lane highway, we’re hopeful we will cut back on the terrible accidents in the area in a substantial way,” Gov. Justice said.

In terms of dollar-value, the $257 million U.S. Route 35 project is the largest single-contract Roads to Prosperity project in the entire program.
Gov. Justice also announced that the completion of Route 35 marked the milestone 1,000th project completed through the Roads to Prosperity program.

Following the ribbon-cutting, Gov. Justice led a parade of vehicles along the new stretch of highway to Point Pleasant, and then back to Buffalo.
In addition to the grand opening festivities, Thursday’s ceremony doubled as a Veterans Day tribute to West Virginia Veterans, as well as all men and women in uniform across the United States.

“We had the opportunity to pass on all the accolades and salute the great people that have served our nation,” Gov. Justice said Friday. “I say it over and over, we owe every single thing we have on this planet to our Veterans and active military.”
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