West Virginia officials today issued urgent warnings about the state’s ongoing Covid-19 numbers as a new variant creates additional concern.
“Covid remains very active and it is ultimately important for us to ensure that we fully vaccinate our population or boost our eligible population,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s chief covid-19 response advisor.
One of the concerns is that the Covid-19 numbers in West Virginia appear to have stabilized rather than a full decline, following a surge a few weeks ago.
West Virginia reported 5,800 active cases of Covid-19 today, slightly less than in recent days.
The state reported 561 covid-19 patients to the hospital, which is up. There were also 181 covid-19 patients in intensive care and 96 who need ventilators to breathe.
West Virginia should be careful not to overwhelm the hospital system in the coming weeks, Marsh said.
“Our hospital capacity is very limited,” he said.
Figures from West Virginia show that 55 percent of the vaccine-eligible population ages 5 and older are fully vaccinated.
The seven-day average of vaccinations has generally fallen. On Monday, the seven-day average was 761. The Monday before, November 22, that number was 1,591.
State leaders have urged residents not only to get vaccinated, but — if they have been vaccinated six months ago or more — to seek a booster shot.
Jim Hoyer, who heads the West Virginia interagency task force, said 222,000 booster doses have been administered to residents of the state. But he said the booster distribution is still not happening fast enough.
“It’s nowhere near where we, West Virginia, need to go into the winter months and with this new variant emerging,” Hoyer said. “So West Virginians, especially over the age of 50, need to get booster doses. We need to get booster doses fast,” Hoyer said.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention made significant changes to their advice on Monday, recommending all adults receive a Covid-19 booster shot. Back in the day, the CDC would have simply told adults: can get a boost.
State officials, including Governor Justice, have been expressing urgency for weeks as Covid-19 statistics in West Virginia have reached a plateau, holiday gatherings would spread the virus and cold weather would cause more people to stay indoors.
“This wave we are in now is not cleaning up the hospitals. It still overloads the hospitals,” the Justice Department said today. “The $64 question to ask yourself is what’s going to happen. What’s going to happen when winter comes? What’s going to happen when it gets colder?”
Now the recently identified omicron variant adds a new factor to that urgency.
“This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” President Joe Biden said in a briefing on ommicron on Monday. “We have the best vaccine in the world, the best drugs, the best scientists and we are learning more every day – and we will fight this variant with scientific and expert actions and speed, not chaos and confusion.”
The best protection is vaccination, Biden said.
“I know you’re tired of hearing me say this: The best protection against this variant or any of the variants out there is to get vaccinated or get a booster vaccination,” he said. “Most Americans are fully vaccinated, but not yet boosted.”