West Virginia exceeds 2,000 virus deaths, 10% receive shots


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia exceeded 2,000 deaths linked to COVID-19 on Friday, as fatalities catch up to weeks of high coronavirus case numbers that are now declining.

There were 562 new confirmed cases reported Friday, down 67% from the beginning of the year. Hospitalizations also declined 36% to 519 patients.

But 23 new deaths put the state’s tally at 2,006.

The state also reported vaccinating 10.3% of its population with at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and 3.3% have received both shots.

Officials continue to use “additional doses in vials” that can be extracted with a sixth syringe, resulting in more full-strength doses than initially expected with the federal government’s shipment of vaccines.

So far, 46% of all first doses have gone to about 84,800 residents aged 65 and over, according to state data. Vaccines are currently available to that age group in the general population, health care workers and teachers over age 50.

Officials have asked the federal government for more doses. President Joe Biden pledged to increase shipments going out to states next week by 15%.

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