Randy Yohe Published

W.Va. COVID-19 Deaths, Hospitalizations Up, Monkeypox Grows

People under 50 might have a chance at a second booster shot the summer depending what federal health officials decide. Those 50 and older have been eligible for the shots since March.

A rise in West Virginia’s COVID-19 hospitalization and death counts is sparking hopes over a new variant booster on the way.

In his Thursday coronavirus briefing, Gov. Jim Justice read the names and home counties of 24 new COVID-19 fatalities, bringing the state’s total to 7,230.

The Department of Health and Human Resources COVID-19 Thursday dashboard showed 350 hospitalizations, a number creeping closer to the 500-patient threshold of staffing and bed availability concerns.

A new Omicron-specific variant booster – expected to provide increased immunity – was approved in the United Kingdom this week.

In Thursday’s briefing, West Virginia Public Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad said that specific variant vaccine, coming from both Pfizer and Moderna, is expected here sometime in the fall, perhaps September or October.

However, she said those eligible for their next booster shouldn’t wait.

“Because of the timing and the unknown,” Amjad said. “If you’re eligible right now or 50 and older to go ahead and get your fourth vaccine rather than waiting.”

Amjad said she is also still waiting for the new variant booster guidelines on age and dosage.

Regarding monkeypox, Amjad said there’s been one confirmed case in West Virginia and four more probable cases now being tested.

Amjad said there are approximately 700 vaccine doses available right now. She said the dose recommendations from the CDC have changed where one vial can now be used for five doses, so they are working on that vaccine strategy.

“We have given several health departments some monkeypox vaccines that they needed to use,” Amjad said. “We continue to work on that project as well to get more out there.”