COVID-19 UPDATE: West Virginia reaches 1,000 hospitalizations for the first time, but total cases are falling rapidly

9/22/2021

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Active case count down 48.6% from peak in just five days
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.
HOSPITALIZATION AND CASE NUMBERS UPDATE
During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice reported that the number of West Virginians hospitalized with COVID-19 has hit an unfortunate milestone. However, at the same time, the state’s total number of active cases has begun to decline rapidly.
West Virginia saw a new record high for total hospitalizations Wednesday, reaching exactly 1,000. The state saw a small decrease in the number of patients in ICUs with 280 (down from a peak of 292 on Monday), while the number of patients on ventilators has once again matched the pandemic peak of 168.

The statewide death toll from COVID-19 has reached 3,467, with 43 more deaths being reported since the Governor's previous briefing on Monday.

“Just think of the amount of wisdom that’s gone,” Gov. Justice said. “Think about the families sitting around for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. What kind of void are we going to have? And how many more are we going to lose?

“We have the power to stop it,” Gov. Justice continued. “We have all got to step up, united together, and get vaccinated. That’s the way to stop it.”

The Governor went on to add, however, that despite the deaths and hospitalizations, West Virginia may finally be turning the corner with the latest surge brought on by the Delta variant.

For the first time since early July, West Virginia’s active case count has dropped for five consecutive days – and the numbers are falling rapidly.

After setting a new all-time pandemic peak of 29,744 active cases on Friday last week, that figure has now dropped to 15,280.

These numbers reflect a decrease of 48.6% in just five days.

COVID-19 Dashboard | Coronavirus.wv.gov

“Our numbers show that maybe we are at the peak and we have started to decline,” Gov. Justice said. “But we still need to stay on our guard until we can be sure this isn’t just a little blip.”

“As the Governor very nicely laid out, we know that, at least from our data, it looks like we are at the top part of the inverted-V graph that we anticipate for the Delta variant...but we’ve been surprised before, so we don’t want to be overconfident,” said State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh. “But based on our numbers, it looks like we've plateaued, and we hope that is the start of us seeing a more rapid drop. But we expect to continue to see more people in our hospitals and more people that need critical care services and our ICU and ventilators than we have before. We have also seen more deaths accumulate over time over the last few weeks, and that is also the last lagging indicator that we anticipate. That’s why it’s so important for West Virginians to be really, really careful and be very committed to being part of the solution by choosing to get vaccinated.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is fully FDA-approved for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

All West Virginians interested in being vaccinated are encouraged to visit Vaccinate.wv.gov 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.
FIND A VACCINE NEAR YOU
JIATF DIRECTOR ANNOUNCES CORRECTION IN STATE VACCINATION DATA AFTER CDC DUPLICATIONS IDENTIFIED
Also on Wednesday, Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) Director Jim Hoyer announced that West Virginia officials recently identified a discrepancy in vaccination data being provided to the state by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), specifically related to the federal pharmacy program.

“Since the first part of May, the CDC has been double-counting the numbers that they send us related to the federal pharmacy program,” Hoyer said. “So it has made a significant impact on our numbers.”

Updated vaccination numbers are now available on the DHHR’s COVID-19 Dashboard and show that 991,761 of the 1,557,837 (63.7%) West Virginians who are currently vaccine-eligible have, in fact, been vaccinated with at least one dose, while 935,803 of these 1,557,837 (60.1%) eligible residents are fully vaccinated.

“We have a team of data scientists from DHHR and West Virginia University who are going through the numbers again, just to validate that there’s nothing else that was provided to us that was inaccurate,” Hoyer said. “They have a new process in place to do additional checks of the data that we receive into the State of West Virginia to make sure that the data we are getting is double-checked and accurate.”

“In everything through this pandemic, you’re going to catch a few cannonballs to the stomach every now and then,” Gov. Justice said. “I’ve told you over and over, the very second we have any news, good or bad, I’m going to be completely transparent about it and you’re going to know.

“But the net of the whole thing is that there are a lot of folks still out in West Virginia that haven’t been vaccinated,” Gov. Justice continued. “So now, by having this information, it makes it even better in some ways, because now I know we've got to double down even more. We have got to all work just one step harder, because there are a lot of people out there that we can still get to, and when we get to them, maybe we’ll be able to stop this thing. But we really need to step up.”
THREE WV SCHOOLS NAMED AS NATIONAL BLUE RIBBON SCHOOLS
Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to congratulate three West Virginia elementary schools for being recognized yesterday as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2021.

The West Virginia schools named as National Blue Ribbon Schools were Crescent Elementary School in Raleigh County, Criss Elementary School in Wood County, and Rock Branch Elementary School in Putnam County.

“This is really a great thing,” Gov. Justice said. “I know Crescent Elementary School so very well because I went to elementary school at Crescent. I was a Crescent Chipmunk. To the Chipmunks, and everyone else who received this recognition, congratulations to all of you.”
The process for selecting Blue Ribbon Schools is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

Click here to read more
“SAVING OUR CARE” INITIATIVE TAKES SHAPE
Gov. Justice also offered a reminder of his announcement Monday that the State will be implementing a new initiative called “Saving Our Care” to ensure the stability of hospitals and nursing homes.

Saving Our Care will provide staffing assistance and financial help to hospitals and long-term care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living facilities to keep workforce levels up. The program will also provide financial assistance to hospitals that have to defer elective procedures.

The initiative will also include 24/7 monitoring and communication with hospital leaders, including a statewide monitoring system for all hospitals and long-term care facilities.

“We absolutely will step up and help our hospitals because helping our hospitals helps protect our people,” Gov. Justice said.

With case numbers now on the decline for the first time in months, and with hospitalizations and deaths expected to soon begin decreasing as well, the Governor and members of the Pandemic Response Leadership Team hope the Saving Our Care initiative will only need to be in place for the next three to six weeks.
COVID-19 RESOURCES
SCHOOL OUTBREAK REPORT
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are currently 90 school outbreaks in 33 counties with 921 confirmed cases.

COVID-19 Outbreaks in State Public Schools (WVDE)

A total of 54 county school systems have either face covering requirements or a criteria for requiring face coverings. Only one county – Pocahontas County – does not have a face covering requirement at this time.

WV Department of Education COVID-19 Updates
ADDITIONAL OUTBREAKS
There are now three active outbreaks associated with churches throughout West Virginia. The churches are located in Monroe, Raleigh, and Wayne counties.

Additionally, there are now 84 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state.

Meanwhile, there are now 292 active inmate cases and 79 active staff cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation system. To view the latest DCR case update, click here.
REGISTER TODAY FOR “DO IT FOR BABYDOG” ROUND 2
Online registration is now open for Round 2 of the “Do it for Babydog: Save a life, Change your life” Vaccination Sweepstakes.

All West Virginians who have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can register at DoitforBabydog.wv.gov for an opportunity to join the list of winners. Over 216,000 West Virginians have already registered for Round 2 of the sweepstakes.

*Those who previously registered for Round 1 of the vaccination sweepstakes are required to register again to be eligible for Round 2*
CLICK TO REGISTER
Each week, five vaccinated West Virginia students ages 12-25 will win a full four-year scholarship to any public college or university in the state, including room and board, tuition, and books; a prize valued at over $100,000.

Additional weekly prizes for vaccinated West Virginians ages 18+ include:
  • Luxury high-end sports car
  • Custom fishing or pontoon boat
  • $150,000 toward the wedding of your dreams
  • Free gas for 10 years
  • WVU football or basketball season ticket package for two
  • Marshall football or basketball season ticket package for two
  • 2021-2022 season passes for two to a ski resort in West Virginia
  • Premium ATV or side-by-side
  • Top-of-the-line zero turn lawn mower
The next set of prize winners will be announced this Thursday, Sept. 23.

While the registration deadline to be eligible for this week's giveaway has passed, vaccinated West Virginians are still able to register for future drawings.

Prize drawings will be held weekly, with winners being announced each Thursday through Oct. 7.
REGISTRATION UNDERWAY FOR HEALTHY GRANDFAMILIES VACCINATION INCENTIVE PROGRAM
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice reminded West Virginia Granfamilies that registration is now underway for the Healthy Grandfamilies vaccination incentive program.

The program offers a $150 voucher for back-to-school supplies to all vaccinated grandfamilies in West Virginia – families where grandparents are the primary caregivers for their grandchildren.
CLICK TO REGISTER
To qualify, all vaccine-eligible members of the grandfamily, including grandparents and grandchildren ages 12 and older, must have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The family must also be enrolled in West Virginia State University’s Healthy Grandfamilies program. Enroll at healthygrandfamilies.com.

Healthy Grandfamilies, which provides information and resources to grandparents who are raising one or more grandchildren, is assisting in the administration of the school voucher incentive. According to the organization, about 19,000 West Virginia children live in households with a grandparent or grandparents as their primary caregiver.
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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

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304.558.3588

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