Amelia Knisely Published

State Health Leaders Tracking New COVID-19 Variant


Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s coronavirus czar, said he’s closely watching how the most common COVID-19 variant is changing, which could lead to an increase in hospitalizations.

The COVID-19 BA.5 variant, which is now the most common COVID-19 variant across the country, is mutating.

“Which is giving this new form of COVID-19 a higher ability to infect people and to avoid immune systems, particularly immune systems that are not up to date with vaccinations,” Marsh said Wednesday during Gov. Jim Justice’s press conference.

He said New York has seen an uptick in hospitalizations from the new variant and West Virginia tends to lag a few weeks behind their experience.

Dr. Ayne Amjad, acting state health officer and commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health, added, “So far it isn’t deadlier like the Delta variant … but it’s still infectious.”

Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, who is part of the governor’s administration and has led the state’s vaccination efforts, noted that it’s now considered best practice to receive your COVID-19 booster shot and flu shot at the same time.

Marsh also urged parents of young children to avoid gatherings where people are sick as the state braces for a possible “tridemic,” a simultaneous surge of COVID-19, the flu and RSV.

The state’s pediatric intensive care units were at 90 percent capacity at the end of last month.

Information on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters is available here.