West Virginia was expected to finish distributing COVID-19 vaccinations among residents and staffers at all 214 of the state’s long-term care facilities Monday evening, Gov. Jim Justice announced at his COVID-19 news briefing earlier in the day.
While vaccines were made available to anyone in the these facilities, they were not required, and those currently infected with COVID-19 could not take them. Justice said the state prioritized vaccines for those housed in care facilities because of the increased likelihood of outbreaks at these facilities and the vulnerability of the residents to COVID-19.
There were 83 outbreaks at long-term care facilities across the state as of Monday, according to the Department of Health and Human Resource’s COVID-19 data dashboard. With long-term care facility vaccinations mostly completed, Justice said, the state is moving forward with the next step of its vaccination plan: ensuring those responsible for giving vaccines to others — clinic staffers, primary care physicians, pharmacists and others — get vaccinated themselves. Once this is complete, there potentially will be more opportunity to expand vaccinations in less centralized means, Justice said.
Of 60,875 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines sent to the state, 30,737 — roughly half — have been distributed, so far.
Overall, the state is still prioritizing age over any other factor for eligibility to receive the vaccine. No directives have been released, however, detailing how older people who are more vulnerable to the virus but who don’t live in a long-term care facility, will be contacted to receive the vaccine, or by what means.
As of Monday, there were 81,436 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in West Virginia, 24,273 of which are active, and 1,263 COVID-19 related deaths. For weeks before the Christmas holiday, West Virginia’s COVID-19 rates were consistently increasing, shattering records for daily new cases, daily positivity rate, the number of deaths in one day, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 and how many of those patients are receiving care in an ICU.
Testing in the past two weeks also decreased across the state. Between Nov. 29 and Dec. 12, nearly 190,000 West Virginians received COVID-19 tests. Comparatively, over the next two weeks from Dec. 13 and Dec. 26, just 140,000 received a test.
Throughout the pandemic, health officials have seen spikes in COVID-19 cases following holidays. And, for weeks, as West Virginia’s rates continued to rise, officials warned against traveling for the holiday to limit spread in the days following. It’s unclear, however, how many heeded the advice.
- Scott Adkins, the acting commissioner of WorkForce West Virginia, detailed how the federal COVID-19 relief package signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday will affect unemployment benefits for those receiving them in West Virginia.
- Justice claimed that 97% of West Virginians are wearing masks, although he provided no source for this statistic.
- The governor again urged everyone over the age of 65 to get tested immediately if they don’t feel well, to ensure access to potentially lifesaving antibody treatment. The antibodies are becoming more available across the state, Justice said.
- This week’s shipments of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will total 25,000 doses.
- West Virginia schools, which are not in session, reported nine outbreaks totaling 35 cases.
- There are 16 current church-related outbreaks in 14 counties.
- There are 488 current infections among inmates in the state’s corrections facilities. State leaders said Monday there is no plan to send vaccines to those in jail at this time. Instead, resources will be focused on corrections staffers.