Governor’s Update - December 16

CHARLESTON — During Thursday’s COVID-19 pandemic response briefing, Governor Jim Justice and state health officials announced that a case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been identified in West Virginia for the first time.

“It’s not good news, but we knew it was coming. It’s running across the entire country and the entire globe,” Gov. Justice said.

“We know that the Omicron variant has been here and now it’s starting to grow in West Virginia like other places,” said State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh. “We have never experienced a form of COVID-19 that can spread as rapidly as the Omicron variant and the Omicron variant is a bit different than Delta in that it appears to be about twice as infectious inside of families and about three times as infectious overall. It also seems to be able to infect people who have been either previously infected with another form of COVID-19 or people that have been vaccinated but not boosted.

“The truth is that we need to pay particular attention because the Omicron variant is a worse form of COVID-19 than we’ve seen before related to its ability to spread person to person,” Dr. Marsh continued. “Given our vulnerable population and given what’s going on around the rest of the country, we are in the bullseye, right now, of a very, very large storm that could be coming right at us and at our hospitals and our communities and our citizens.”

“We need to get you vaccinated,” Gov. Justice added. “I’ve said it over and over. I don’t care what you’re doing today. There is nothing more important than getting vaccinated or getting your booster shot.”

Free COVID-19 vaccinations are available and approved for everyone ages 5 and older. West Virginians interested in being vaccinated or having their children vaccinated are encouraged to visit or call the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965.

The FDA and the CDC both recommend booster doses for all Americans ages 18 and older, provided that at least six months have passed since receiving their two-dose Pfizer/Moderna vaccine series or that at least two months have passed since receiving their one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.