CHARLESTON — During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Jim Justice reported that 511 West Virginians are currently hospitalized with COVID-19.
According to a news release from the governor’s office, this marks the first time since late-January that the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations has surpassed 500.
Of the patients currently hospitalized, 171 are in the ICU and 74 are on ventilators. Both of these numbers continue to rapidly approach the all-time records in West Virginia.
“We know that the overwhelming majority – the overwhelming majority – of the people that are hospitalized in the ICUs, our deaths; they’re unvaccinated,” Gov. Justice said. “You have got to get vaccinated. There is nothing in your life that is as important as getting yourself vaccinated.”
“There is no time to wait,” State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh said. “We know that fully vaccinated people in the United States and Israel have a remarkably high protection against getting severe disease from COVID-19…We know that it’s the people not vaccinated, or who haven’t finished their vaccination series, they’re the ones that are most commonly going to the hospitals, going to the ICUs, and dying.”
“Unvaccinated West Virginians are filling up our hospital capacity,” West Virginia Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) Director Jim Hoyer said. “We currently are at 64% of the peak that we saw during the last big surge. If we stay on the current path that we are on, we could more than double that number.”
On Monday, the U.S. FDA officially gave its full stamp of approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.
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 announced Wednesday that 80% of West Virginians ages 65 and older are now fully vaccinated. More than 6,100 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the past two days alone.
“For some of them, we will save their lives by getting them vaccinated. I can’t tell you if that’s 100 or 1,000, but a bunch of those people are going to have their lives saved,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s good, but it’s just not good enough. The bottom line is we don’t only need 6,100 people getting doses today; we need 26,100 people getting their vaccinations right now, or more.”
“A rule I try to live by is: ‘What would your dad tell you to do?’” Gov. Justice continued. “West Virginia, I’m pleading with you, ask your dad or ask yourself what your dad would tell you to do about this vaccine. I can’t imagine that the dads would tell their kids not to take the vaccine. It’s too important to all of us. It’s too important that you don’t fill up the hospitals and restrict our people’s access to care. Please, you’ve got to get vaccinated.”
The total number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia has now reached 11,725; an increase of 1,182 from the case total during the Governor’s previous briefing on Monday and the state’s highest number of active cases since Feb. 13.
The Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to catalyze this latest surge. Gov. Justice reported Wednesday that there are now 554 confirmed cases of the Delta variant statewide.
Gov. Justice also echoed his announcement from earlier in the week that he has directed State pandemic response officials to continue their push to expedite approval from the federal government to allow West Virginia to begin administering an extra dose of the COVID-19 vaccines to the state’s most vulnerable citizens, including residents at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, who were among the first people in the nation to be vaccinated.
“The reason that we have so many people that are approaching eight months since they’ve been vaccinated is because we got the shots to the people,” Gov. Justice said. “While everybody else was sitting around on their hands, trying to figure out what in the world to do, we got the shots in the arms of people to protect them. We were the first to get out in front of everything and I’m very proud of that because I know, without any question, we saved a bunch of lives. But, by being first and getting out in front of it, we need to be administering our booster shots right now.”
The Governor went on to say that he has directed members of the West Virginia COVID-19 pandemic response leadership team to contact the White House in efforts to secure approval to begin administering these additional doses.
Meanwhile, the JIATF is running tabletop exercises and planning drills so that they are ready to immediately begin administering additional doses as soon as authorization comes.
“If you’re 60 and older, and you’re out six months – or past that – from when you had your vaccination, we need you to be ready, because we’ll be ready.”
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that online registration is now open for the second round of the “Do it for Babydog: Save a life, Change your life” vaccination sweepstakes.
All West Virginians who have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can register at DoitforBabydog.wv.gov for an opportunity to join the list of winners.
If you cannot access DoItForBabyDog.wv.gov, you may call the West Virginia COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line at 1-833-734-0965.
Those who previously registered for the original vaccination sweepstakes are required to register again to be eligible for Round 2.
Registration for the first prize drawing of “Do it for Babydog: Round 2” will remain open until Sunday, Aug. 29, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Winners will be announced next Thursday, Sept. 2.
Prize drawings will be held weekly, with winners being announced each Thursday through Oct. 7.
Information provided by the office of Gov. Jim Justice.