COVID-19 UPDATE: Governor, state health officials announce first case of Omicron variant identified in West Virginia


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 Thursday’s briefing, Gov. Justice and state health officials announced that a case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been identified in West Virginia for the first time.

“It’s not good news, but we knew it was coming. It’s running across the entire country and the entire globe.” Gov. Justice said.
“We know that the Omicron variant has been here, and now it’s starting to grow in West Virginia like other places,” said State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh. “We have never experienced a form of COVID-19 that can spread as rapidly as the Omicron variant, and the Omicron variant is a bit different than Delta in that it appears to be about twice as infectious inside of families and about three times as infectious overall. It also seems to be able to infect people who have been either previously infected with another form of COVID-19 or people that have been vaccinated but not boosted.”
“The truth is that we need to pay particular attention because the Omicron variant is a worse form of COVID-19 than we’ve seen before related to its ability to spread person to person,” Dr. Marsh continued. “Given our vulnerable population and given what’s going on around the rest of the country, we are in the bullseye, right now, of a very, very large storm that could be coming right at us and at our hospitals and our communities and our citizens.”

“We need to get you vaccinated,” Gov. Justice added. “I’ve said it over and over, I don’t care what you’re doing today, there is nothing more important than getting vaccinated or getting your booster shot.”

Free COVID-19 vaccinations are available and approved for everyone ages 5 and older. West Virginians interested in being vaccinated or having their children vaccinated are encouraged to visit or call the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965.
The FDA and the CDC both recommend booster doses for all Americans ages 18 and older, provided that at least six months have passed since receiving their two-dose Pfizer/Moderna vaccine series or that at least two months have passed since receiving their one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

West Virginians can go to any location offering COVID-19 vaccines with their vaccination card to receive their booster.

If your card has been lost, you can request a new one from the DHHR.
Gov. Justice also announced that he and Babydog will travel to Matewan Grade School in Mingo County tomorrow to present students and staff with a $100,000 check as winners in Round 3 of the “Do it for Babydog” vaccination sweepstakes.

The Governor and Babydog will host a party for the entire school to celebrate. The event will also include an on-site vaccine clinic and remarks by a doctor to talk about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

This is the fourth and final school visit as part of Do it for Babydog: Round 3.

Earlier this week, 126 young West Virginians were also announced as individual winners in the final week of Round 3.
Emma Brumfield of Paden City won a $100,000 Educational Savings Fund, while an additional 25 young West Virginians each won a prize of a $10,000 Educational Savings Fund. All 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.

Another 100 young West Virginians won a Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License.

Although Do it for Babydog: Round 3 has come to a close, registration is still open for Do it for Babydog: Senior Center Edition.

Individuals ages 50 and older who have been fully vaccinated and who choose to receive their booster shot on or after Dec. 7, 2021 are eligible to receive a $50 prepaid visa gift card as an additional incentive to continue protecting themselves from COVID-19.
Additionally, four senior centers across the state with the highest overall vaccination rates will win a $100,000 grand prize and receive a visit from the Governor and Babydog.

More information is available at
On Thursday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now 8,737 active cases of COVID-19 statewide.

The cumulative percent positivity rate stands at 6.34%.

A total of 1,086,501 West Virginians – 63.9% of the eligible population ages 5 and older – have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Booster doses have now been administered to 281,774 people – or 31% of West Virginians who have received both doses of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine series or their dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

COVID-19 Dashboard |
Gov. Justice also reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are currently 20 school outbreaks in 15 counties with 238 confirmed cases.

COVID-19 Outbreaks in State Public Schools (WVDE)
Gov. Justice also took time to echo his announcement earlier in the day that he has secured the support of the Republican-led Legislature to give all state employees – including public school teachers and service personnel – a 5% pay raise for the third time since 2018.

Additionally, Gov. Justice announced that all state employees will also receive a one-time 2.5% salary enhancement to combat the rising costs of inflation. The Governor said it will be known as the Inflatocine – short for Inflation Vaccine.

“As we’ve gone through this horrible pandemic, we’ve continued to kick out surplus after surplus,” Gov. Justice said. “Our state is doing really good. I commend everybody that’s made all the right moves on the chessboard. We want to reward our people for a lot of great work that they’ve done and we also want to continue to help our teachers and make education our centerpiece in West Virginia.

“In addition to this, we have a situation going on in this country with this runaway inflation,” Gov. Justice continued. “So we’re going to do a one-time supplement to try to help our teachers and state employees who are contemplating how they’re going to fill their cars up with gasoline and buy groceries with the inflated prices.”

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