CHARLESTON — During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Jim Justice announced the Biden Administration has authorized a third COVID-19 vaccine dose for Americans who are fully vaccinated. This plan is still subject to approval by the CDC and FDA.
According to a news release from the governor’s office, the additional dose will be administered eight months after the second dose of the vaccine. The Federal Government plans to begin booster vaccination administration in late September, but West Virginia is working to expedite the process and protect vulnerable citizens as soon as possible.
“We are going to continue to push in every way to be able to get our people who are the most exposed the booster shot,” Gov. Justice said. “While I try not to be critical, we are making too many mistakes. We need to move and September 20th to me just isn’t going to cut it.”
Per federal guidelines, individuals seeking the third dose will be required to take the same vaccine from the two-dose regimen which only includes Pfizer and Moderna.
West Virginia plans to prioritize at-risk populations, like those in long-term care facilities and medical professionals, for immediate booster vaccine administration.
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped three-tenths of a percentage point to 5% in July 2021, the lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the state since January 2020.
Currently, West Virginia is .4% ahead of the national unemployment rate.
“This is the lowest rate we have had in 15 months,” Gov. Justice said. “Total employment grew by 1,700 over the last month which is incredible. Keep up the good work West Virginia.”
Within the goods-producing sector, employment increased by 600 in mining and logging and 200 in manufacturing.
The Governor also reported Wednesday that there were 458 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant statewide.
The total number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia, as of the press briefing, had reached 7,579; an increase of 1,630 from Monday’s case total.
Hospitalizations continue to increase as well, with 409 people currently hospitalized. Of that total, 135 patients are in the ICU and 51 patients are on a ventilator.
“We have now lost more people in West Virginia to COVID-19 than we did from the 9/11 incident in the United States,” said State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh. “We need to start to rally around each other to become vaccinated. The treatment that we have for this virus are the vaccines.”
Free COVID-19 vaccinations remain available to all West Virginians ages 12 and older.
All West Virginians interested in being vaccinated are encouraged to visit Vaccinate.wv.gov or call the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965. The info line is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Gov. Justice also reported that there are now eight active outbreaks associated with churches throughout West Virginia. The churches are located in Cabell, Fayette, Kanawha, Mason, Putnam, Raleigh, Taylor, and Wayne counties.
Additionally, there are 17 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state.
Meanwhile, there are 45 active inmate cases and 28 active staff cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation system. To view the latest DCR case update, click here.
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice reminded West Virginians that he has issued a State of Preparedness in advance of additional rain forecasted to affect West Virginia from the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred.
This State of Preparedness covers all 55 counties and allows for the mobilization of resources to assist with preparation for any potential flooding or other storm-related damage.
Additionally, the Governor has instructed all State agencies to exercise their appropriate authorities associated with this State of Preparedness.
The Governor stands ready to declare a State of Emergency for all areas that the Division of Emergency Management deems necessary.
Information provided by the office of Gov. Jim Justice.