Justice continues to encourage COVID vaccinations
CHARLESTON — Vaccination is the prime directive for the state of West Virginia against the COVID-19 coronavirus, officials reiterated during the governor’s pandemic briefing on Wednesday.
Vaccination is a protection against the deadlier and more infectious variants of the virus that started in China, which have been detected in West Virginia, mostly in 19 border counties and particularly in Berkeley, Ohio and Monongalia counties, Dr. Ayne Amjad, state health officer, said.
About 140 cases of the UK variant and 160 cases of the California variant have been detected so far in West Virginia and it appears to be impacting younger residents in the 19- to 40-year-old age groups, she said.
“It is something we are concerned of in our younger population,” Amjab said.
The variants are more lethal and more infectious than the original virus, Dr. Clay Marsh, coronavirus czar, said. Other states are seeing an increase in the variants, albeit West Virginia is not at the same rate, but many of the residents of West Virginia are of the most vulnerable age group of 65 and older, he said.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Marsh said.
About a third of the state is vaccinated with at least first-doses, he said. Greater protections start at 50 percent of the population getting vaccinated, Marsh said.
The key is to get vaccinated and vaccinate as many people as possible, Gov. Jim Justice said. He estimated 90,000 people in the vulnerable age group of older than 60 have not been vaccinated.
“It’s not smart” to not get a vaccination, Justice, reiterating the same admonition to those residents who refuse to vaccinate, said.
“You’re making a terrible mistake, a terrible, terrible mistake,” he said.
The Joint Interagency Task Force on Vaccines is continuing to work with businesses, manufacturing and churches to organize vaccination clinics, James Hoyer, who heads the task force, said. Groups can call 833 734-0965, the coronavirus hotline, to arrange a clinic.
The arrangement has been successful, Hoyer said.
States across the nation are experiencing an increase in infections, Justice said. West Virginia, too, said Justice, citing virus-related hospitalizations are again nearing 300 people.
“We all know there is a little uptick in this thing,” Justice said. “We don’t want it to turn into a big uptick.”
Justice used the briefing to also tout the stocking of the crossbred tiger trout by the Division of Natural Resources.
About 25,000 tiger trout are being released in lakes and streams, he said. Some are going to be trophy-size, Justice, an avid hunter and fisherman, said.
The fish is a cross between brown and brook trout, but is more aggressive and eager to bite, the governor said.
“You can catch them a little bit easier,” he said.
Jess Mancini can be reached at email@example.com.