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West Virginia Officials Still Stressing Need for COVID-19 Vaccinations

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. (NIAID-RML via AP)

Vaccination is the prime weapon for the state of West Virginia in the fight 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 about in our younger population,” Amjad said.

The more infectious variants also are 50 percent more lethal 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.

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 said.

The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department reported six new positive COVID-19 cases in its Wednesday night update, bringing the county’s totals to 4,109 positive cases and 82 related deaths since the pandemic began. The Marshall County Health Department had not updated its website with the county’s latest totals as of 11 p.m. Wednesday.

Hancock, Brooke and Marshall counties all were green, the safest category on the Department of Health and Human Resources COVID-19 alert map Wednesday. Ohio County was gold.

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