CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia is ending the use of its color-coded map, as it relates to schools, Gov. Jim Justice announced during Wednesday’s virtual COVID-19 briefing.
The map “has outlived its time,” Justice said. All high schools will now be open full-time unless there is a significant outbreak, Justice explained. Closures based on outbreaks will be determined by local health departments, Justice said. The decision was largely based on the fact that all teachers and school personnel, who wanted a shot, have been vaccinated. It’s time to “say bye to a great friend that saved a lot of lives,” the governor said.
Despite this, the state is seeing significant transmission among younger people, in the 16-29 age group, Justice reported, saying that officials are going to make an effort to get that demographic vaccinated. The Pfizer vaccine is indicated for patients as young as 16, officials said, mentioning that the state is expected to get an increase in Pfizer doses next week.
Meanwhile, the state’s vaccination rate for residents 65 and older is now above 70%, Gov. Justice reported. The governor’s goal is to get to at least 85% of the state’s older population. Officials will work with churches in the state to try to reach this goal, Ret. Maj. Gen. Jim Hoyer said.
Fixed location vaccination clinics for people 65 and above will be open in Berkeley, Kanawha and Monongalia counties. Anyone 65 and older can call the state hotline(833-734-0965) to be immediately scheduled for a vaccine at one of those locations.
The state’s task force is also partnering with manufacturers and small businesses to provide on-site vaccinations. To start, the state is distributing 10,000 doses between Toyota, Proctor and Gamble, First Energy, Pilgrim’s Pride and others.
The governor again urged people to get vaccinated: “Please quit listening to the noise. If you don’t get the vaccine, you’re taking a heck of a risk,” he said. Responding to people who plan to wait to get vaccinated, Justice said: “I hope you make it, because some of you won’t. Some of you are going to die. That’s all there is to it. I think that’s very foolish.”
State officials have seen 24 cases of the U.K. variant of the COVID in nine West Virginia counties, they said, citing it as another reason why everyone should get vaccinated.
Should someone encounter side effects from being vaccinated, health officials advise people to try not to take medication, but if they do, to take Tylenol, as opposed to ibuprofen.
Gov. Justice took a different approach, suggesting that “small portions of hot fudge cake will make you feel better.”
Justice also reminded residents that his mask mandate is still in place: “Nobody likes it, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t like it,” said the governor.
Low Flu Levels:
West Virginia has its lowest number of flu cases since 2005, state health officials announced, attributing it to the mask-wearing, social distancing and handwashing protocols associated with coronavirus precautions.