West Virginia continues to lead nation in vaccine distribution

During Monday’s press briefing, Governor Jim Justice announced that West Virginia has once again surpassed an overall vaccine administration rate of 100 percent for both first and second round vaccine doses combined.

“Our goal is always 100 percent, and we’re knocking it out of the park in every way,” Justice said. “We continue to lead the nation over and over and over.

“As always, a special, special thanks goes out to all of our counties, our communities, the DHHR, the National Guard – all those that are making this happen in every way, we thank you beyond belief.”

West Virginia has successfully administered 435,942 doses after receiving a total allotment of 430,200 doses from the federal government to date; an overall administration rate of 101.3 percent. This number exceeds 100 percent due to extra doses being extracted from vials of the vaccine.

As of Monday morning, 9.7 percent of West Virginia’s entire population has received both doses of the vaccines. West Virginia’s percentage remains among the highest rates of fully vaccinated residents of any state in the nation.

Justice went on to announce that free COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be held in all 55 counties across West Virginia once again this week through operation “Save Our Wisdom.”

The clinics are currently available for West Virginians who are 65 years of age and older. To date, 149,684 West Virginians age 65 and older have chosen to be vaccinated, including 77,413 who are now fully vaccinated.

Each clinic location has its own, unique schedule.

Names are being pulled from the West Virginia COVID-19 Vaccine Registration System to fill out appointments after waitlists are exhausted. All clinics require appointments and walk-ins will not be accepted.

West Virginia was the first state in the nation to put a statewide vaccination pre-registration system in place. The new digital tool allows West Virginians to add themselves to a list of people who are interested in being vaccinated, and it will notify those who sign up about the availability of vaccine doses to help streamline vaccination efforts.

To date, more than 279,000 West Virginians have signed up to be added to the pre-registration list.

All West Virginians over the age of 16 are encouraged to pre-register at vaccinate.wv.gov

West Virginians who need assistance with registration for any reason should call the COVID-19 Vaccine Info Line for help at 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.

Restrictions have been loosened – continued caution urged

Justice also reminded West Virginians of his decision last week to loosen several COVID-19 restrictions through a series of executive orders.

The executive orders include:

• Executive Order 5-21, clarifying the existing prohibition on live indoor music performances. (Indoor concerts may be held with the exception of wind instruments and vocals.)

• Executive Order 6-21, increasing the capacity limit for all restaurants and bars to 75 percent seating capacity while maintaining social distancing; and raising the social gathering limit to 75 people.

• Executive Order 7-21, clarifying that all Pre-K-8 students in all counties statewide should be in school.

Additionally, at the direction of the Governor, the DHHR has amended its rules on capacity limitations for small businesses, retail stores and grocery stores – (increasing the number of people allowed per 1,000 square feet of floor space.)

All of these updates require individuals and businesses to continue following all applicable safety guidelines including, but not limited to, mandatory face coverings and social distancing.

These decisions were made after numerous discussions with members of the West Virginia pandemic response leadership team and other state leaders regarding the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases and the increasing number of vaccinated West Virginians. However, Justice pointed out that, if numbers begin to take a turn for the worse, some or all of these restrictions could potentially be reestablished.

UK variant detected in West Virginia

Justice discussed the  DHHR’s announcement  of Friday evening that three cases of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 – more commonly referred to as the “UK variant” – have been detected in North Central West Virginia…

State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh provided his insight on the discovery

“The good news about the United Kingdom variant is the fact that the vaccines we have, appear to be effective against it,” Marsh said. “We know that masks and physical distancing work just as well to reduce the spread of this variant as they do for other forms of COVID-19, and it is also good news that we have been able to put together a team that has worked together to facilitate and help us have the ability to do whole genome sequencing on this virus.

“This collaboration is really a demonstration of the great talent we have in the state – the fact that we are scrappy and resilient and have put together the capabilities to do much for ourselves,” Marsh continued. “Having this capability now in West Virginia will facilitate and allow us to track very closely any new outbreaks…to be able to survey and surveil the stage as far as positive tests so that we can follow that very closely and also be able to help the CDC with the identification of these types of viruses that might occur in West Virginia.”

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