Governor Jim Justice and members of the West Virginia COVID-19 pandemic response leadership team held another news briefing Tuesday to update the public on the State’s latest pandemic response efforts.
With the number of COVID-related hospitalizations and ICU patients in West Virginia at their highest points since the pandemic’s biggest wave in January – and still climbing – Justice continued pleading for more West Virginians to get vaccinated.
“We’ve got to someway realize that we’ve got to get vaccinated for all – not just for you, but for everybody – we’ve got to do this,” Justice said. “We can stop a lot of this terrible, terrible carnage.”
The Governor reported that the statewide death toll from COVID-19 reached 3,148 on Wednesday, with 24 deaths occurring since his last briefing just three days ago.
Of the patients currently hospitalized, 112 are on ventilators; a new record high for the entire pandemic. A total of 216 patients are in the ICU; the highest such mark in eight months and just three away from the all-time record high in this category, as well.
The daily total number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia has now surpassed 20,000 for the first time since February 1. The active case count of 21,500 is an increase of more than 2,000 new cases since Friday last week.
Meanwhile, the County Alert System map now shows that 53 of the state’s 55 counties are either in the Red or Orange categories. A total of 41 counties are currently Red and 12 are Orange.
“Our map, for all practical purposes, looks solid-red now,” Justice said. “Really and truly, we’ve got a big-time situation in West Virginia, as we do all across this nation.
“The only way we’re going to get through this with an outcome that is halfway good is we’ve got to get more and more people vaccinated,” Justice continued. “That’s the only ticket we’ve got. I wish to goodness I could tell you something else. But the bottom line is we’re going to have a bunch more people die if we don’t kick it in gear like nobody’s business.”
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 immune-compromised individuals.
Justice also offered a reminder to sign-up for the recently announced Healthy Grand-families vaccination incentive program.
The program will provide a $150 voucher for back-to-school supplies to all vaccinated grand-families in West Virginia; families where grandparents are the primary caregivers for their grandchildren.
To qualify, all vaccine-eligible members of the grand-family – including grand- parents 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 Grand-families program.