CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – Gov. Jim Justice and members of the West Virginia COVID-19 pandemic response leadership team held another news briefing today to update the public on the State’s latest pandemic response efforts.
During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice and State medical experts announced that the latest updated hospitalization data shows that 818 West Virginians are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; matching the all-time record high number of hospitalizations for the entire pandemic.
“Back when we started down this pathway with the Delta variant, I came to you and said that we really needed to buckle up, because this thing could run rampant all across our state,” Gov. Justice said.
“Well it surely has,” he continued.
According to State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh, the number of West Virginians in ICUs is still at the all-time record mark of 252, while the number of West Virginians on ventilators has once again broken the all-time high, reaching 152 individuals.
“We’ve reached that level of hospital bed capacity, taken up by people infected with COVID-19, about 100 days quicker than we did during our last surge in December 2020,” Dr. Marsh said. “We know that about 85% of our hospitalized patients are not vaccinated, 90% of our ICU patients are not vaccinated, and 91-93% of our people on ventilators are not vaccinated.”
“We can see that more West Virginians are dying now,” Dr. Marsh continued. “About six weeks ago, we were averaging about six deaths a week. This week we are already over 60.”
The statewide death toll from COVID-19 reached 3,207 on Friday, with 38 more deaths being reported since his previous briefing just two days ago.
“There’s no guarantee that we’re close to the point in time when this surge is going to peak and we’re going to go down,” Gov. Justice said.
“We’re going to continue to lose people in this surge and it brings a level of sadness over all of us,” Gov. Justice continued. “We offer up our prayers to all those we’ve lost, and we offer our prayers that we’ll all realize that going unvaccinated is really making a big mistake.”
The total number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia has now reached 24,532; an increase of more than 2,300 new cases in the past two days.
Meanwhile, the County Alert System map now shows that 43 of the state’s 55 counties are now in the highest-risk Red category. Another eight counties are one step below in the Orange category.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is fully FDA-approved for the prevention of COVID-19 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.
“We’ve had 4,800 people that have been vaccinated in just the last two days since our briefing on Wednesday,” Gov. Justice said. “Of those 4,800 people, there’s no question that some of them, with this move, have saved their life or the life of a loved one or someone really close to them.”
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.
With today marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to pay tribute to all those who lost their lives in New York, Washington, D.C., and southwestern Pennsylvania on that fateful day in 2001.
“It’s hard to imagine that it’s been 20 years,” Gov. Justice said. “It was a beautiful, quiet, blue-sky day. And then, all of a sudden, America was under attack.”
“I ask you for your prayers and for us to never, ever forget that day,” Gov. Justice continued.
“Some of the speakers at the virtual 20th Anniversary Commemoration Ceremony include our U.S. Senators. Dr. and Mrs. Ambrose, who lost their son Paul in one of the planes, will speak. General Crane, the First Lady, and myself will also speak,” Gov. Justice said. “I encourage all West Virginians to tune in and join us in honoring those we lost 20 years ago.”
Gov. Justice went on to announce that he will be signing a proclamation ordering all United States and West Virginia flags on all State-owned facilities throughout all of West Virginia be displayed at half-staff from dawn to dusk tomorrow – Sept. 11, 2021 – to honor the memory of the Americans lost on 9/11 and to pay tribute to all of the patriots who have sacrificed their lives in the defense of our nation’s freedom.
The Governor has also issued a proclamation, officially declaring Sept. 11, 2021, as “Heroes Day” in West Virginia.
This annual observance – held on the second Saturday of each September – celebrates the bravery and sacrifice of first responders in West Virginia; including firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical services workers, and 911 telecommunicators.
This year’s Heroes Day happens to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. A special Heroes Day celebration will be held this Saturday at the Ritchie County 4H Grounds just outside of Harrisville.
Gov. Justice recapped his journey across the state to surprise some of the biggest winners from the second week of prize giveaways as part of his “Do it for Babydog: Round 2” Vaccination Sweepstakes.
Gov. Justice provided a life-changing opportunity to two West Virginia students when he and Babydog surprised them at their schools and revealed that they had each won a full ride college scholarship through the sweepstakes.
The prize, which includes room and board, tuition, and books, is valued at over $100,000.
First, the Governor visited North Marion High School in Marion County, where he announced that Hannah McIntire of Worthington had been drawn as one of this week’s scholarship winners.
Then, the Governor made his way to Morgantown High School in Monongalia County, where he announced that Kamryn Daniels of Morgantown had also been drawn as one of this week’s scholarship winners.
Three additional West Virginia students won full ride scholarships yesterday as well, including Jacob Dodd of Salem, Sierra Honaker of Alderson, and Veronnica Pope of Mount Nebo.
Later in the afternoon, Gov. Justice and Babydog also stopped by Fairmont State University to present four more major prizes to a group of north central West Virginia residents.
Karen Hoffert of Fairmont was named as the winner of a new 2022 Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible.
Jason Crayton of Clarksburg won a prize of free gas for 10 years.
Angela Smallwood of Flemington was presented with the keys to a brand new, top-of-the-line zero turn lawn mower; a 61″ Bad Boy Rebel 747cc with a Kohler engine.
Cheryl Lowther of Lost Creek was presented with the keys to a Yamaha Wolverine RMAX 1000 UTV.
A total of 25 West Virginians were announced as “Do it for Babydog” winners Thursday, taking home a variety of exciting prizes, including those mentioned above as well as a dream wedding valued at $150,000, a custom fishing or pontoon boat, WVU and Marshall University football or basketball season ticket packages, and season passes to West Virginia ski resorts.
Vaccinated West Virginians have four more chances to win in Round 2 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. Over 197,000 West Virginians have registered for Round 2 of the sweepstakes to date.
*Those who previously registered for Round 1 of the vaccination sweepstakes are required to register again to be eligible for Round 2*
Online registration to be eligible to win in the next prize drawing will remain open until Sunday, Sept. 12, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Winners will be announced next Thursday, Sept. 16.
Additional prize drawings will be held weekly, with winners being announced each Thursday through Oct. 7.
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice reminded West Virginia Granfamilies that registration is now underway for the Healthy Grandfamilies vaccination incentive program.
The program offers a $150 voucher for back-to-school supplies to all vaccinated grandfamilies in West Virginia – families where grandparents are the primary caregivers for their grandchildren.
To qualify, all vaccine-eligible members of the grandfamily, including grandparents and grandchildren ages 12 and older, must have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The family must also be enrolled in West Virginia State University’s Healthy Grandfamilies program. Enroll at healthygrandfamilies.com.
Healthy Grandfamilies, which provides information and resources to grandparents who are raising one or more grandchildren, is assisting in the administration of the school voucher incentive. According to the organization, about 19,000 West Virginia children live in households with a grandparent or grandparents as their primary caregiver.
On Friday, Gov. Justice reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are currently 88 active outbreaks in 34 counties within the state public school system.
Fourteen schools and one entire county school system – Clay County – are currently closed due to COVID-19.
A total of 34 county school systems have face covering requirements, 13 counties have criteria for requiring face coverings, and eight counties do not have face covering requirements.
There are now four active outbreaks associated with churches throughout West Virginia. The churches are located in Barbour, Monroe, Raleigh, and Wayne counties.
Additionally, there are 72 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state.
Meanwhile, there are 159 active inmate cases and 51 active staff cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation system. To view the latest DCR case update, click here.