During 300th briefing, governor discusses Omicron

Staff Report

CHARLESTON — During his 300th briefing on COVID-19 Monday, Gov. Jim Justice spotlighted a pair of charts depicting the number of daily cases in West Virginia and across the nation, both of which now show a substantial decline in cases in recent days.

“If you look at these charts, you’ll see that, as we entered this surge from the Omicron variant, our numbers went way, way up. But now, you see them moving down pretty aggressively,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re starting to move in a good direction and we’re very, very hopeful that this drop off will continue.”

COVID-19 booster shots are now authorized and encouraged for all West Virginians ages 12 and older.

Booster shots are available for free to all eligible West Virginians. The waiting period for those who received initial series Pfizer shots has been shortened to five months. Read more about booster eligibility at CDC.gov.

West Virginians can go to any location offering COVID-19 vaccines with their vaccination card to receive their booster. If your card has been lost, you can request a new one from the DHHR.

Initial series vaccinations remain available for free for all West Virginians ages 5 and older.

West Virginians interested in being vaccinated or having their children vaccinated are encouraged to visit Vaccinate.wv.gov or call the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965.

On Monday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now 10,700 active cases of COVID-19 and 994 COVID-related hospitalizations statewide.

The Governor went on to announce that 290 West Virginia National Guard members have now been authorized to deploy to 34 medical facilities across the state as part of the WVNG’s mission to provide staffing support to West Virginia hospitals in the face of the current surge.

During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia health officials have identified the state’s first cases of the BA.2 Omicron sub-variant – also known as “Stealth Omicron” – in Berkeley and Ohio counties.

“As always, when these variants pop up in West Virginia, we shouldn’t be surprised, but we need to take action and protect ourselves by getting our shots,” Gov. Justice said. “If you’re fully vaccinated and you still haven’t gotten your booster shot, I just don’t get it.”

“All of our medical experts have told you over and over that, if you aren’t boosted, your protection level, for all practical purposes, is zero,” Gov. Justice continued. “How can you continue to wait? The number one thing you need to do today is get that booster shot.”

State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh went into more detail about this latest variant.

“It’s been called the ‘stealth’ variant, not because it’s any worse than the original Omicron, but because it has different properties when you use genetic tests to identify it. But what is clear, in some countries, this variant has become the dominant variant and has out-competed the first variant, BA.1,” Dr. Marsh said. “We’ll watch it carefully. It doesn’t seem like it’s any more severe than BA.1. It may be a bit more contagious. But the immunity that we’ve gained in West Virginia from vaccines, and, we hope, more boosters, along with people that have been infected and recovered from Omicron recently, should provide us the necessary immune protection so that BA.2 does not spread widely.”

Information provided by the office of Gov. Jim Justice.

Staff Report