June Leffler Published

WV Hits 2,000 COVID-19 Deaths, Making Strides Vaccinating At-Risk Groups

Maria Arechiga (center) helps move an intubated COVID-19 patient to a private room. The patient died later that day. Multiple COVID-19 deaths in one day are not rare at the hospital.

Gov. Jim Justice has recognized those lost to COVID-19 at every virtual press briefing, but today marked a milestone.

“We’re going to remember them, we’re going to thank them for all that they gave us every day,” Justice said.

West Virginia, on Friday, surpassed 2,000 deaths due to COVID-19. It took several months — from the start of the pandemic to mid December — for the death toll to creep up to 1,000. Six weeks later, the count doubled.

Still, health officials are hopeful given a recent downward trend in daily active cases, despite predictions of a post-Christmas surge.

“We are surprised as well that we didn’t see a bump in our numbers,” said State Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad. “But I think we need to also be vigilant and not take it for granted.”

As the state begs the federal government for more vaccines, Amjad said it’s too soon to see vaccinations curb a significant loss of life.

One promising announcement of the day: all willing nursing home and assisted living residents have been fully vaccinated.

The state also announced efforts to close the racial gap in COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.

“With proper resources, we’ll be the same way recognized across the country as vaccinating people of color as we are for the general population,” said the Rev. James Patterson. He works with the Partnership of African American Churches, which has been contracted to help get testing out to Black communities throughout the state. At the press briefing, Patterson and state officials said they’d carry those same efforts into vaccination.

All 55 counties will have a vaccination clinic next week. The number of doses available will be based on the senior population of each county.

Since Monday, 133,000 West Wirginians have registered to get their first shot using the new, centralized Everbridge system. Anyone can register online now.