Phase 1 vaccine distribution plan announced

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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.

As the Governor began his Friday briefing he asked West Virginians to remember those who passed away from the virus. He asked this especially as the Christmas holiday approaches. He then honored those who died since his previous briefing by listing their ages and where they lived.

The Governor then read a letter from a West Virginian which came in on Monday, Nov. 30. This person thanked the Governor for reading off the list of those who died. They had known two of those on the list who had died within hours of each other.

There is a record high number of hospitalized patients. The DHHR reports there are 632. There are also 169 people in the Intensive Care Units (ICU). The Reproductive Factor (Rt) in WV is 1.08. The Governor stated that is 25th best in the Country.

He pleaded with those who are the most vulnerable to seek assistance so they do not have to go out in public. This would be getting groceries or prescriptions.

The Governor took a moment to pray for those who passed away and for Charleston Police Officer Cassie Johnson who was killed in the line of duty earlier in the week. Flags will be lowered to honor officer Johnson on the day of her funeral.

In regards to the COVID-19 vaccine, the Governor read a release. This states the vaccine will not give a person COVID-19. It was clinically tested with tens of thousands of people.

There will be limited supply when it first becomes available. It will be released in phases, and will be available to the public in Phase 2. The first doses of the vaccines will go to those who run the critical health units. It will then go to first responders followed by those in nursing homes. The priority at assisted living facilities will be staff then the elderly.

The first batch in West Virginia will be about 20,000 doses. It will then increase to a weekly amount of about 21,000 doses. The Governor stated this will increase as the Moderna vaccine becomes available. The target receipt date is Dec. 15, depending on FDA approval.

The Governor reiterated that the vaccine is safe. He said he will take it in front of everyone if it will help encourage others. He also reinforced a person cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine and addressed concerns over the federal government tracking people who take the vaccine. He stated this will not happen.

Dr. Clay Marsh stated the COVID-19 vaccine is more than 94-percent effective. He also said there are no significant side effects to the vaccine.

Gov. Justice stated he hopes to have the capability to have all West Virginians vaccinated by March 2021. Until the vaccine is distributed he asked people to please wear their masks and to get tested. This includes the new free in-home testing from Vault.

The number of people who died from COVID-19 on Thursday, Dec. 3 was approaching the number who died on 9-11, according to Dr. Marsh.

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