CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia health leaders and other officials today for his latest daily press briefing regarding the State’s COVID-19 response.
During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that, beginning next week, West Virginia’s total weekly vaccine allocation from the federal government will increase from approximately 52,000 doses per week to approximately 72,000 doses per week.
As part of the plan for the increased allocation of doses, the Governor announced that he has ordered the Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) to bolster vaccine delivery capabilities in the state’s Eastern Panhandle.
“Our vaccine numbers will increase significantly next week and that will give us a lot more flexibility,” said Joint Interagency Task Force Director Jim Hoyer. “We have seen some challenges at the local level in the Eastern Panhandle with the ability to get vaccines out and maintain other services. So, at the Governor’s direction, we have worked with several partners, including WVU Medicine, our local health officials, and others, to increase the capacity to deliver vaccines in the Eastern Panhandle.
“That effort is beginning as we speak and will ramp up significantly next week as we see more vaccines start to come in,” Hoyer continued.
“With our allocation going up, we need to amp up even more what we’re doing in the Eastern Panhandle, as well as all across our state,” Gov. Justice said. “We have a challenge, and we’re going to run to the fire like we always do and get that knocked out.”
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that the state will now begin the process of offering vaccinations to all inmates within the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) system, age 65 and older, who are interested in receiving the vaccine.
“We have a challenge within our corrections facilities, and we are immediately moving to get shots in the arms of everybody in these facilities that are 65 years of age and older that will accept and take a shot,” Gov. Justice said. “Once we get those done, we will fall right down to 50 and we will stay at it until everyone who wants a vaccine gets one.”
Gov. Justice went on to report that West Virginia has now successfully administered 812,015 doses after receiving a total allotment of 829,300 doses from the federal government to date; an overall administration rate of 97.9%.
West Virginia currently boasts a first dose administration rate of 104.6%, which exceeds 100% due to extra doses being extracted from vials of the vaccine, and a second dose administration rate of 88.8%.
First doses: 498,588 administered / 476,480 allotted
Second doses: 313,427 administered / 352,820 allotted
West Virginia COVID-19 Dashboard (Click “Vaccine Summary” tab)
Vaccinations are now available to all West Virginians age 16 and older. However, West Virginians who are age 65 and older will continue to be prioritized first until all state residents in this age range who desire the vaccine have been vaccinated.
The Governor provided a reminder of his announcement last week that, at his direction, the Joint Interagency Task Force is setting up three fixed-location vaccination clinics in Berkeley, Kanawha, and Monongalia counties to ensure that every West Virginian age 65 and older has access to a vaccine.
To date, 236,860 West Virginians age 65 and older have chosen to be vaccinated – over 72% of West Virginia’s population in this age range – including 177,608 who are now fully vaccinated.
Any West Virginians age 65 and older are urged to pre-register for an appointment by visiting vaccinate.wv.gov or calling 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.
The Governor and state pandemic response leaders also offered a reminder of their announcement Monday that Walmart and additional independent pharmacies will begin receiving doses of COVID-19 vaccines, joining Walgreens and the Med Shoppe/Leader network of pharmacies as part of the federal pharmacy partnership in West Virginia.
West Virginians can go to vaccinefinder.org for assistance in locating and securing an appointment at one of these federal pharmacy partners.
The JIATF continues to reach out to manufacturers and businesses across the state to increase vaccine access for employees and their families choosing to be vaccinated by organizing vaccination clinics at these facilities.
Additionally, church leaders are still being urged to contact the JIATF for help organizing vaccination clinics for interested members of their congregations.
Anyone interested in organizing one of these vaccination clinics is asked to contact the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965.
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that the recent investigation into the reason why certain COVID-19-related deaths were not properly reported has been completed.
The investigation concluded that there was no willfulness and intent by any reporting authority to cause incorrect data to be reported or not reported to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR).
“Due to the lag time to prepare, submit, and issue a West Virginia death certificate, it is not possible, today, to use a death certificate for near real-time reporting of a COVID-19 death,” Gov. Justice said. “But this all has got to be changed, and we have to do it right now.”
As a result, Gov. Justice announced that he has directed the DHHR to immediately begin the process of implementing a new electronic death reporting system.
“West Virginia is one of the only states in the country that does not have an electronic system like that,” Gov. Justice said. “We probably didn’t need that in West Virginia until we got into this pandemic. But now that we’ve gotten into this situation, our people at DHHR should’ve recognized this and moved. They didn’t move and I am not happy about that. But I can tell you that it is clear there was no intent to report incorrect data.
“With the help of our National Guard, we are on it and we’re going to get it fixed,” Gov. Justice continued.
The Governor went on to report that the DHHR recently discovered that another 35 COVID-19-related deaths were not properly reported by various healthcare facilities across the state. Gov. Justice took time to honor each of these West Virginians during his briefing Wednesday.
“I truly hate this so bad,” Gov. Justice said. “These people deserve our respect and our love. I’m sure we have both for them. But, absolutely, to not report them in a timely way is not good. I hate this and I’m sorry for this.”