Gov. Jim Justice and members of the West Virginia COVID-19 pandemic response leadership team held another news briefing on Monday, Aug. 16, to update the public on the State’s latest pandemic response efforts.
During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia has begun administering a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to certain immunocompromised people.
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. That recommendation received full approval and West Virginia immediately began administering booster doses to qualified individuals.
“From day one we have been a leader in vaccinations and we are going to continue going in that direction,” Gov. Justice said. “Our highest priority is getting those doses to the people who need it the most.”
Local health departments and pharmacies have been administering the extra doses to patients. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is working on a plan to provide updates on the number of booster shots given on the COVID-19 dashboard.
Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia has achieved yet another vaccination goal with 90% of individuals age 65 and older who have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Congratulations to all of those out there working hard to get people 65 and older vaccinated,” Gov. Justice said. “You still have to continue to help in every way. I know that we could end this thing now if we were able to reach 90% of all individuals vaccinated.”
The Governor established this goal back in July. The state is still working to achieve a goal of 85% of West Virginians age 50 and older who have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
The Governor reported that there are now 322 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant statewide.
The total number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia has now reached 5,949; an increase of 637 from Friday’s case total.
Hospitalizations continue to increase as well, with 324 people currently hospitalized. Of that total, 110 patients (33.9%) are in the ICU and 44 patients (13.5%) are on a ventilator.
State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh noted that the 30-50-year-old age group continues to see more people hospitalized and in ICUs on both a national and statewide scale.
“As we look at West Virginia this is really a defining moment for us in many ways,” Dr. Marsh said. “We are seeing COVID-19 cases and the delta variant increasing in West Virginia. Hospitalizations are going up, ICU patients are going up, individuals on ventilators are also going up. The delta variant is really starting to take hold here.”
Most of the individuals admitted to hospitals across West Virginia have not been vaccinated.
“If we continue at this pace, in less than two weeks we will hit the maximum number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 since the last time we saw a surge,” said Joint Interagency Task Force Director Jim Hoyer.
State leaders continue to urge all vaccine-eligible individuals to get vaccinated, especially those who have had COVID-19 previously, as soon as possible. Unvaccinated individuals who have been infected with COVID-19 and contract the delta variant are at a higher risk of serious illness and hospitalizations.