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West Virginia Opens COVID-19 Vaccinations to Anyone 16 or Older

Photo by Scott McCloskey Michael Ravasio of Wheeling receives a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine Monday at Ohio County’s vaccine clinic site at The Highlands.

CHARLESTON — As active cases begin increasing again in West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice announced Monday that all residents ages 16 and older can now get in line for a COVID-19 vaccine, though focus remains on older residents.

“Let’s go, West Virginia, and let’s get everybody in this state vaccinated,” Justice said. “Beginning right now, if you’re 16 years of age and older and you want to get vaccinated and get into one of our clinics, we’ll get it done.”

West Virginia’s decision to open up vaccinations for all eligible residents follows Alaska and Mississippi. West Virginia opened up eligibility to residents age 16 and older with underlying medical conditions last week. President Joe Biden set a national goal of opening up vaccine eligibility to all by May 1.

West Virginia has fully vaccinated 15 percent of the state’s 1.79 million residents against COVID-19 since the first doses arrived last December, while nearly 25 percent of residents have at least one shot. The state receives weekly shipments of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, both of which require two doses, as well as the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

“As we continue to lead the way with our vaccine distribution, we don’t want to take our foot off the gas,” Justice said. “I encourage all West Virginians to take advantage of this opportunity and get vaccinated.”

Residents are encouraged to go to vaccinate.wv.gov and pre-register for the Everbridge system or call the West Virginia COVID-29 Vaccine Info Line at 1-833-734-0965 for assistance with pre-registration. Justice stressed that the state’s focus remains on getting older residents vaccinated as quickly as possible.

“We’re going to continue prioritizing all those 65 years of age and older, but at the same time we’ve got to get more and more and more West Virginians and now is our time,” Justice said.

Justice also announced the return of fairs and festivals in the state starting Saturday, May 1.

Justice said state health officials would issue guidance in the next few days on how to restart fairs and festivals safely.

“As we get closer to some level or normalcy, I’m so hopeful that we’ll be able to have our fairs and festivals and do a lot of good stuff and try to get back to that normalcy as fast as we possibly can,” Justice said. “These events are part of our fiber and we want them to go on.”

Fairs and festivals were shut down last year at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and re-opened on July 1, 2020. But increases in case numbers resulted in Justice limiting outdoor public gatherings to no more than 25 people and closing all fairs and festivals 13 days later. Last year, Justice awarded $1.5 million in state COVID-19 relief to the state’s 330 fairs and festivals due to lost revenue from the COVID-19 shut down last summer.

According to data from the Department of Health and Human Resources, the number of positive cases over a 14-day period between March 8 and March 20 was 4,507, which was a 16% increase compared to 3,898 cases between Feb. 22 through March. 7.

As of Monday, the most recent data available, the state reported 276 new cases received in a 24-hour period compared to Sunday’s data. The state averaged 347 cases per day over a seven-day period, up from 298 cases the previous seven days.

Active COVID-19 cases, the number of infected people in self-quarantine or hospitalized, was 5,600 cases as of Monday, a 7% increase from 5,214 active cases seven days ago. All 55 counties have active cases for the 22nd week in a row. Active cases have increased in 29 out of 55 counties over the last seven days.

The state reported 2,612 total COVID-19 deaths as of Monday, with 20 new deaths reported last week due to delayed reporting from hospitals, long-term care facilities and home health.

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