COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice: Number of ICU patients reaches all-time high; West Virginia experiencing fastest acceleration of new cases in nation – Governor Jim Justice

Gov. Justice: “Our hospitals are still overwhelmingly inundated with cases of people that are not vaccinated.”

CHARLESTON, WV – 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.

ICU PATIENTS REACHES ALL-TIME HIGH; WV EXPERIENCING FASTEST ACCELERATION OF NEW CASES IN NATION
During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice reported that 252 West Virginians who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 are currently in intensive care units (ICUs); a new record high for the entire pandemic.

COVID-19 Dashboard | Coronavirus.wv.gov

This comes exactly one week after the state record for the number of patients on ventilators was broken. Wednesday, that number also continued to increase to never-before-seen levels, with a new all-time high of 132 West Virginians now on ventilators.

West Virginia’s total number of COVID-related hospitalizations has increased to 813; just five away from the all-time record in that category as well. And, as Gov. Justice pointed out Wednesday, there is a common thread between the vast majority of these severe cases.

“Our hospitals are still overwhelmingly inundated with cases of people that are not vaccinated,” Gov. Justice said. “Ninety percent of people in ICUs are unvaccinated. For God’s sake, how difficult is this to understand? What we should be doing is right there in front of us. We just need to use good sense and get ourselves vaccinated.”

Meanwhile, a new report by the health news website statnews.com shows that West Virginia currently has – by far – the highest rate of acceleration of new COVID-19 cases in the country, with 2.69 cases per 100,000 people per week per day; more than 60% higher than the state with the 2nd-highest rate of acceleration.

“What we’re seeing here in West Virginia right now is exactly what we would expect,” State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh said. “The Delta variant has entered that explosive growth phase, where enough people who are unvaccinated are infected that they can infect other people that are largely unvaccinated.

“Just like if you have a big, roaring fire, the fire might start off in a few places, but after awhile, if you have enough dry timber and have too few number of firewalls, that fire can start to consume more and more of the of the forest, and start to join in to create one, raging fire,” Dr. Marsh continued. “That’s exactly what I believe we’re experiencing right now in West Virginia. And, as the Governor has said, the way to generate the firewalls is vaccination. There’s really no other intervention that works as well as that.

“As this variant continues to burn itself out, we predict it may take as much as another five to seven or maybe as many as 10 to 14 days for that to happen.”

“I hope and pray that Dr. Marsh is right that this surge may only last another couple of weeks,” Gov. Justice said. “The problem with that is none of us really know for sure. And if 14 days turns into 10 weeks, just think of the numbers that are going to die.”

The statewide death toll from COVID-19 reached 3,169 on Wednesday, with 21 deaths occurring since his last briefing just two days ago.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia has now reached 22,215; an increase of over 700 new cases in the past two days.

Meanwhile, the County Alert System map now shows that a whopping 44 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 given out 11,000 vaccine doses since last Friday,” Gov. Justice said. “It sounds good, but it’s not enough. We’ve still got so many folks out there that we need to get across the finish line.”

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.

REGISTRATION NOW UNDERWAY FOR HEALTHY GRANDFAMILIES VACCINATION INCENTIVE PROGRAM
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that registration is now underway for the recently announced Healthy Grandfamilies vaccination incentive program.

The program will provide 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.

REGISTER TODAY FOR “DO IT FOR BABYDOG” ROUND 2
Online registration is now open for 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 188,000 West Virginians have already registered for Round 2 of the sweepstakes.

*Those who previously registered for Round 1 of the vaccination sweepstakes are required to register again to be eligible for Round 2*

Each week, five vaccinated West Virginia students ages 12-25 will win a full four-year scholarship to any public college or university in the state, including room and board, tuition, and books; a prize valued at over $100,000.

Additional weekly prizes for vaccinated West Virginians ages 18+ include:

  • Luxury high-end sports car
  • Custom fishing or pontoon boat
  • $150,000 toward the wedding of your dreams
  • Free gas for 10 years
  • WVU football or basketball season ticket package for two
  • Marshall football or basketball season ticket package for two
  • 2021-2022 season passes for two to a ski resort in West Virginia
  • Premium ATV or side-by-side
  • Top-of-the-line zero turn lawn mower

The next set of prize winners will be announced this Thursday, Sept. 9.

While the registration deadline to be eligible for this week’s giveaway has passed, vaccinated West Virginians are still able to register for future drawings.

Prize drawings will be held weekly, with winners being announced each Thursday through Oct. 7.

SCHOOL OUTBREAK REPORT
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are currently 68 active outbreaks in 31 counties within the state public school system.

Click here: COVID-19 Outbreaks in State Public Schools (WVDE)

Ten schools and one entire county school system – Clay County – are currently closed due to COVID-19.

As of this afternoon, a total of 29 county school systems have face covering requirements, 13 counties have criteria for requiring face coverings, and 13 counties do not have face covering requirements.

Click here: District-by-district face covering guidance (as of Sept. 8)

ADDITIONAL OUTBREAKS
There are now three active outbreaks associated with churches throughout West Virginia. The churches are located in Barbour, Monroe, and Wayne counties.

Additionally, there are now 62 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state.

Meanwhile, there are now 134 active inmate cases and 58 active staff cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation system. To view the latest DCR case update, click here.

GOV. JUSTICE CONGRATULATES 2022 WEST VIRGINIA TEACHER OF THE YEAR AND SCHOOL SERVICE PERSONNEL OF THE YEAR WINNERS
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to congratulate Brian Casto of Cabell County for being named the 2022 West Virginia Teacher of the Year and Katherine Miller of Wayne County for being named the 2022 West Virginia School Service Personnel of the Year.

“I congratulate them both in every way,” Gov. Justice said. “What incredible work both of you do. You’re both very deserving of this great honor.”

Casto is an eighth grade West Virginia Studies teacher at Milton Middle School in Cabell County and a 13-year education veteran. In addition to his classroom duties, he serves his school as a member of Milton Middle School’s leadership team, a team leader and a West Virginia Quiz Bowl coach. Outside of school, Casto coaches tee-ball, works with teens in his church’s youth group, and enjoys exploring the state with his wife and three children.

Miller is a cafeteria manager at Wayne High School in Wayne County. A pillar of support for her students and community, she has been in her current role for 19 years. Miller’s consistent dedication is displayed by her involvement in the development and implementation of her school’s meal pick-up program, school improvement days, and cooking pre-game meals for the football team. Additionally, she participates in fundraising dinners for Hospice of Huntington and is involved with the Wayne County Special Olympics.

“I congratulate all of this year’s finalists,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve got a lot of great, great teachers and service personnel who do incredible work across the state with our kids.”

Click here to read more

GOV. JUSTICE RECOGNIZES WEST VIRGINIA HEROES DAY
Finally Wednesday, Gov. Justice took time to announce that, in honor of all West Virginia heroes, past and present, he has issued a proclamation officially declaring this coming Saturday, 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 Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.

“It’s an event that none of us will ever, ever forget,” Gov. Justice said.

“We salute all the heroes across our state and nation that always run to the fire,” Gov. Justice continued. “I say it over and over, but we love them and we thank them.”

The Governor went on to add that a special Heroes Day celebration will be held this Saturday at the Ritchie County 4H Grounds just outside of Harrisville.

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