CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice called the sharp decline in coronavirus deaths “amazing” on Wednesday.
Weekly deaths from mid-January to the week ending last Sunday dropped 60% to 81 fatalities. There have been 13 deaths reported so far this week.
“It is amazing what has happened in West Virginia,” the Republican governor said about the vaccine rollout, credited with bringing down deaths and hospitalizations. Cases have also declined.
Nearly 137,500 residents aged 65 and over have received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose.
In total, 14.2% of the state’s 1.78 million population has received a first dose, and 8.2% of people are fully vaccinated, one of the highest rates in the country. Both vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna require two doses taken a few weeks apart for full effectiveness.
The state expects to receive about 40,600 first doses from the federal government next week, said James Hoyer, a retired major general leading the state’s coronavirus task force. That would be a jump from its initial allocation of 23,600 doses from January.
“We continue to see steady progress and growth,” Hoyer said.
But the state hopes for even more doses, as officials have said there is enough capacity to administer 125,000 shots a week.
Winter weather has slowed down some vaccinations and delivery of doses this week in the state. Justice declared a state of emergency on Tuesday in four western counties where an ice storm caused tens of thousands of power outages and knocked trees onto roads.
The daily positivity rate for coronavirus cases dropped to 3.41% and 201 new confirmed cases were reported on Wednesday.