COVID-19 UPDATE: West Virginia ready to provide extra vaccine dose to certain people with weakened immune systems following final approval

8/13/2021

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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.
WEST VIRGINIA READY TO PROVIDE EXTRA VACCINE DOSE TO CERTAIN PEOPLE WITH WEAKENED IMMUNE SYSTEMS
During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia is ready to begin administering an extra dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to certain immunocompromised people immediately following final CDC approval.

Shortly after the conclusion of the Governor’s briefing Friday afternoon, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted unanimously to recommend that certain patients with weakened immune systems receive an extra dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna vaccines.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky must now give final approval on the ACIP’s recommendation. Once she gives the green light, qualified patients will immediately begin receiving the extra dose.

“We will be ready to move forward,” Gov. Justice said. “From day one, we've been a national leader in regard to vaccinations, and we're ready to go on to booster shots as well.

“We'll get them in the arms of lots and lots of folks as quickly as we possibly can.”
Last night, the FDA provided its approval of the additional shot for people with moderate to severe immunosuppression. The FDA emphasized that other fully vaccinated people are “adequately protected” and currently do not need an extra dose.
GOV. JUSTICE: “NOW’S THE TIME” TO GET VACCINATED
Once again Friday, Gov. Justice and other pandemic response leaders intensified their calls for West Virginians who have not yet received their first dose to reconsider getting vaccinated, as cases, hospitalizations, and the spread of the Delta variant all continue to rise.

“If there was ever a time in your life to get vaccinated, if there was ever a time for you to get your kids vaccinated, right now’s the time,” Gov. Justice said. “You’ve got to move.”
The Governor reported that there are now 317 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant statewide; nearly double the statewide case total of 161 as of the Governor’s previous COVID-19 briefing two days ago.
To view COVID-19 variant data:
  • Go to the WV COVID-19 Dashboard at Coronavirus.wv.gov
  • Make sure the “Overview” tab is selected
  • Click yellow box reading: “Click here to view variant data”
The total number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia has now reached 5,312; an increase of 687 from Wednesday’s case total.

The current case total is also now more than six times higher than it was five weeks ago

Hospitalizations continue to increase as well, with 312 people currently hospitalized. Of that total, 109 patients (34.9%) are in the ICU and 42 patients (13.5%) are on a ventilator.
“The frequency and the ratio of the ICU cases to total cases continues to climb,” Joint Interagency Task Force Director Jim Hoyer said. “We are in a challenging spot and we need more West Virginians to get vaccinated so that we can continue to address not only the Delta variant, but what is coming with the next couple of variants that we'll probably see before we get to the end of this.”
“There's more 30-to-39-year-olds in America's hospitals than ever before in this pandemic, and we're seeing people who are very young and otherwise healthy, who are unvaccinated, going to the ICU and being on ventilators,” State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh said. 

“Two very touching stories – both with pregnant moms that delivered their babies early because of the impact of COVID-19 – one mom got to feed her baby once before she died, and one mom is still in the ICU, and has only seen her baby over Zoom,” Dr. Marsh continued. “So, as we look at this pandemic continuing to grow with the Delta variant, and continuing to grow in West Virginia, we still are on the earlier side of what I believe is going to still be a turbulent time for us coming up.

“We know that the really foundational way that we can protect ourselves, and not be sources of new variant formations, is by getting fully vaccinated.”

Free COVID-19 vaccinations remain available to all West Virginians ages 12 and older.

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.
VIDEO: “DO IT FOR BABYDOG” VACCINATION SWEEPSTAKES CHANGES LIVES ACROSS WEST VIRGINIA
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice showed a video montage, recapping the emotional reactions of the 22 major prize winners whose lives were changed through the “Do it for Babydog: Save a life, Change your life” Vaccination Sweepstakes.

Click to watch video
“The ‘Babydog Sweepstakes’ ended as a terrific success,” Gov. Justice said. “I can’t tell you how successful I think the whole program was. Sure, we put some money into it. But, just think about it, from when we started to today, we almost got 200,000 more people vaccinated.

“How many lives did we save? It was unbelievable.”
GOVERNOR CLARIFIES STANCE ON FACE COVERINGS
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice clarified that he is not preparing to require face coverings statewide at this time.

“Where we are right now, in the State of West Virginia, I see no need to put out any kind of executive order to mandate face coverings at this point in time,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re going to leave that to local control. We have a lot of good folks on the local level that are monitoring what is going on within their counties and within their cities. We've got to give them flexibility, because this is not a one-size-fits-all deal.

“That said, we always want to leave everything open on the table,” Gov. Justice continued. “We all know there's no playbook and we all know that we've got to be fluid and we’ve got to be fast on our feet to move to the best of our abilities based on the knowledge that we have.”
COVID-19 RESOURCES
 
OUTBREAK REPORT
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now 12 active outbreaks associated with churches throughout West Virginia. The churches are located in Cabell, Fayette, Jackson, Jefferson, Mason, McDowell, Nicholas, Putnam, Raleigh, Taylor, and Wayne counties.

Additionally, there are 18 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state.

Meanwhile, there are 27 active inmate cases and 12 active staff cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation system. To view the latest DCR case update, click here.
DHHR SECRETARY ADDRESSES COVID-19 DASHBOARD
During his remarks today, West Virginia DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch reported on recent technical issues and questions regarding the DHHR’s COVID-19 Dashboard.

“The DHHR was informed of unreported test results from Berkeley and Morgan counties that had not been received by the State,” Sec. Crouch said. “The issue involves labs dating back several months. One lab’s results, in particular, were not received by DHHR. We’ve dug into that issue and we've determined that it was a technical error that was not identified by the vendor that is responsible for assuring that connections are made between all of the labs in the state and DHHR’s system. The DHHR is downloading the unreported files and is manually entering those records into the system today, and we will update the dashboard later today.

“This is an issue that we want to make sure doesn't happen again,” Sec. Crouch continued. “We've asked our vendor to do an audit of all labs in the state that are connected to the system to make sure there are no other issues there, and to provide us a daily report from now on.

“Also, you will note that today's positivity rate was very low and that there are low case counts in some areas. This is the result of an update to the state surveillance system; an upgrade to the system that took place yesterday. The upgrade resulted in a low number of assigned cases in the surveillance system. As users get comfortable with the updates, this will speed up the production level. On the next dashboard update, there will be an increase of cases for August 12 as cases are processed in the surveillance system.

“Finally, we have automated the process of vaccine breakthrough cases. As files are merged to identify if a case qualifies as a breakthrough case, the positive case and vaccine administered dates have to meet a threshold to qualify. What this means is there's a natural lag to identify breakthrough cases, and we're working on updating that and speeding that up.”
KANAWHA COUNTY COMMISSION VACCINE INCENTIVE PROGRAM
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice commended the Kanawha County Commission for their announcement yesterday of their new TEAM Vaccinate Program.

Through the program, all Kanawha County sports teams, cheer squads, bands, show choirs, and other extracurricular teams will receive financial incentives of $2,500 to their booster programs or school if 90% of their team participants get vaccinated.

The Commission said that American Rescue Plan funds will be used to pay for this program.
I think this is a great idea and I commend the Commission for starting this program. 

“I think this is a great idea,” Gov. Justice said. “Absolutely, I commend the Commission for starting this program.

“Way to go Kanawha County, I love it,” Gov. Justice continued. “They're stepping up. It’s just more incentive to get our people across the finish line and get them vaccinated.”
GOVERNOR ADDRESSES U.S. CENSUS, POPULATION DECLINE IN WEST VIRGINIA
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to discuss the 2020 U.S. Census data that was released yesterday, saying that West Virginia's population declined 3.2% over the past decade; the most of any state in the nation.

“It’s a big loss,” Gov. Justice said. “We had population loss in 47 out of 55 counties.”

West Virginia was one of seven states to lose a congressional seat after the 2020 Census.

“Think about the fact that we led the nation in getting counted in the Census,” Gov. Justice said. “I really believe in my heart that we’ve got so many accomplishments in West Virginia. We’ve absolutely knocked it out of the park over and over.

“West Virginia is doing really good, and I'm going to continue in every way to try to figure out a solution for us to grow population,” Gov. Justice continued. “But I’ll say to all of you just this: the biggest miss that we could possibly have ever had in 2021 was that we were poised to be able to get rid of our state income tax, or be on a glide path to be able to do that, but we didn’t. That would have really changed the situation. But instead, it was a big miss.

“At some point in time, if the opportunity presents itself again, we need to revisit and we need to look at finding a way that it can be accomplished.”
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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

Governor's Mansion:
304.558.3588

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