Emily Rice Published

Health Officials Urge Vaccine Vigilance Throughout Winter Holidays

Registered Nurse Morgan James loads a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the Blood Bank of Alaska in Anchorage.

Gov. Jim Justice began his COVID-19 briefing Friday, as he has since 2020, by reading a list of ages of the most recent 11 deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total to 7,638. He said the winter is only going to make things worse.

According to Justice, 978 West Virginians currently have COVID-19, with 290 of those cases newly reported. This brings the state’s daily positivity rate to 3.9 percent with a cumulative rate of 8.53 percent. In addition, 190 West Virginians are currently hospitalized and six of those patients are dependent on a ventilator.

“And you can see most of our counties are green, but we still have grown to 16 counties in the yellow,” Justice said. “I absolutely urge everyone to get your booster shots, especially those folks over 50. But it’s, it’s eligible to all folks over that are 12 years old, 12 years of age and older.”

Justice also reported outbreaks of COVID-19 in West Virginia, with 43 cases in long term care facilities, 62 inmate cases and 15 staff cases. Both Justice and Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch urged the public to be proactive about preventing illness this winter.

“Our plan right now is to continue everything we’re doing to try to keep the public advised of the changes in COVID, and as the governor said on Monday, this is not over,“ Crouch said. “And we’re seeing again, hospitalizations up at 190 now, hospitalizations a little over two weeks ago, 16 days ago, 114 COVID hospitalizations. So that is an indication we need to keep folks informed about what’s going on.

Justice warned that it would not take many more positive cases of COVID-19 for West Virginia hospitals to be overrun with patients. He stressed getting COVID-19 and flu vaccines before the holidays to keep everyone safe.

“We’ve got three things right now, big things we’re dealing with, we’ve got RSV, we’ve got flu, and we still got COVID. And the variants from COVID, you know, are so contagious it’s off the chart,” Justice said.

State leaders urged residents to use the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ online vaccine calculator to stay up to date on vaccinations.