UPDATE (6:13 p.m. Dec. 16, 2021)

MARION COUNTY – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the Marion County Health Department announced in a press release that they have confirmed the first case of the Omicron variant in the state is a resident of Marion County. According to the release, the resident is unvaccinated against COVID-19.

To protect patient confidentiality, no further information will be provided.

ORIGINAL (12:09 P.M. dEC. 16, 2021)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The CDC has identified a single case of the Omicron variant in West Virginia, Dr. Clay Marsh announced during Gov. Jim Justice’s virtual COVID-19 briefing, Thursday. “We knew it was coming,” Justice remarked.

Where the case was found, along with information on the patient, has not yet been released. The case was identified by a private lab and reported to the CDC, Dr. Marsh said. Officials expect to soon see more cases, as more surveillance is done, said Dr. Marsh.

“The boosters are the key right now. You must just not know that if you’re six months out, getting that first shot isn’t doing you much good now. You’ve got to get that booster shot,” Justice implored.

Covid hospitalization rates are going up quickly in neighboring states, causing state health officials concern, Dr. Marsh described.

“We need to improve those numbers(booster percentages). We need to do all that we can to protect the capacity of our hospital system and to save lives in West Virginia. That could be the greatest gift this holiday season could bring,” said Dr. Marsh.

The state has plenty of vaccines available, but may not have a large supply of antibody treatments or the new anti-viral pills, Ret. Maj. Gen. Jim Hoyer said, explaining why residents should get vaccinated, instead of relying on treatments once they contract COVID.

Also on Thursday, Gov. Justice announced plans for a 5% raise for state employees, along with a one-time 2.5% bonus, to help offset inflation. The plan will need to be passed by the state legislature, in January, before the raises would kick in or the bonus checks would be sent out.