Gov. Justice and state officials provide an update for media on COVID-19 preparedness and response plans. For more information about COVID-19 prevention and more, call the State’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-887-4304 or visit Coronavirus.wv.gov.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend West Virginia lost 40 residents to COVID-19. The total deaths is now 735. To honor those who passed away, Gov. Jim Justice read off the ages of the victims and the counties where they lived. He asked all West Virginians to keep the families in their prayers.
The news conference began later than expected on Monday, Nov. 30. The Governor stated there is a protest outside the state capitol complex. He said they are against the mandatory mask mandate.
There are now 597 people hospitalized with 162 in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The Governor said this is a record high. The Reproductive Factor (Rt) is now 1.00. That is 15th best in the country.
The Governor said in a phone conversation on Sunday that they should stop elective surgeries. This is due to the possibility of hospitals overrun with COVID-19 patients. He stated on Monday, they are only cutting back on those surgeries which require an overnight stay.
Each hospital system in the state was asked to update their surge plans. These will be submitted to the Hospital Association. The state will look at the plans. The goal is to ensure beds are not taken up by those who are getting elective surgeries.
Vaccines are expected to be available in West Virginia in the first two weeks of December. The vaccine will require two doses. Based on medical advice, the Governor recommended everyone get a vaccine when it is available.
The National Guard is focusing on two missions. This includes reducing the number of fatalities in nursing homes. They are now standing up the efforts to distribute the vaccine as soon as it is available.
“We’re proving to ourselves that we know how to die,” Gov. Justice said in response to a question regarding people who would refuse to take the vaccine.
“The vaccine is an opportunity to live,” he added. “The risk of taking the vaccine is so low it is off the charts.”
The trend graphics in West Virginia show the situation is getting worse. The Governor is looking at targeted restrictions in some areas to cut down on the spread of the virus. This could be announced on Wednesday if necessary.
Dr. Clay Marsh stated West Virginia is a microcosm of what is happening across the nation. He shared the concerns over an increased burden on the state’s hospitals. There are counties with 50, 75 and even over 100 cases per 100,000 population on a seven day average. He stated West Virginia is entering a new phase of the pandemic. This means people need to do what they can to slow the spread, including wearing masks, washing hands and following guidelines.