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COVID-19 metrics continue dropping in West Virginia

Photo Courtesy of W.Va. Governor’s Office Gov. Jim Justice updates West Virginia residents on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CHARLESTON — Less than 10 days out from West Virginia’s 158th birthday, the number of COVID-19 active cases and hospitalizations continue to collapse thanks to effective vaccines.

Gov. Jim Justice credits the vaccines for not only bringing down the state’s COVID-19 infections but also for protecting him after he found out Wednesday before attending an economic development announcement in Morgantown that he had come in contact with a COVID-positive person last week.

Justice, who was vaccinated live on YouTube several months ago, tested negative for the virus.

“I went into the parking lot and went on Zoom because the last thing I wanted to do is be someone who is infecting others and be someone who could very well, absolutely, infect someone and take their life,” Justice said. “You can stop this, but we’ve got to get you vaccinated.”

According to the Department of Health and Human Resources, there are 3,229 active COVID-19 cases in the state, representing 0.18% of West Virginia’s 1.79 million residents. That’s a 17% reduction in active cases between Wednesday — the most recent data available — and 3,889 active cases last Thursday.

The County Alert System map — once a kaleidoscope of colors ranging from green and yellow for good to orange and gold and red for bad — is now a sea of green with only three counties in the yellow and four counties in the gold. Infection rates and percent of positivity are down in the majority of counties.

Hospitalizations are at their lowest mark since the end of August 2020, with 133 hospitalizations reported as of Wednesday, 54 cases in intensive care unit beds, and 18 confirmed cases on ventilators. Deaths over the last two days since Justice’s Tuesday COVID-19 briefing was 26 deaths, bringing the death toll in West Virginia to 2,848 deaths since March 29, 2020.

However, 18 of those deaths were due to delayed reporting of deaths by hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home healthcare. The excess deaths were discovered through DHHR’s reconciliation process when comparing death certificates to death totals. The deaths date back to April and May.

“This is a continual process that DHHR is doing to reconcile the official death certificates,” Justice said. “It’s totally unbelievable just how tragic this thing has been … it’s not over.”

More than 60% of eligible West Virginians age 12 and older have at least one dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines as of Thursday, bringing the state closer to the 65% goal set by Justice for the state to reach by Sunday, June 20. Residents vaccinated since December 2020 are eligible to register for the state’s vaccine incentive lottery.

Drawings will start June 20 for various prizes, including trucks, rifles and shotguns, college scholarships, and a chance at $1 million. Residents can go to governor.wv.gov to register. The lottery is open to fully vaccinated and partially vaccinated residents. Partially vaccinated residents between the ages of 16 and 35 can also register for a $100 U.S. savings bond or a $100 prepaid debit card.

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