CHARLESTON — Governor Jim Justice resumed his series of coronavirus press briefings on YouTube Monday, providing updates on the state’s continual efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Justice announced that the list of pre-existing conditions that grant early eligibility for the vaccine has been expanded. According to the governor, all West Virginians over the age of 16 with the following conditions added to the list will now be eligible for vaccination: HIV and similar chronic infectious diseases, COPD, diabetes mellitus, cystic fibrosis, pregnancy, asthma, liver disease, and many others. Full details can be found at coronavirus.wv.gov.
Gov. Justice also added that efforts would begin to vaccinate essential workers of all ages. “President Biden said last week that he wants all Americans to be eligible to receive a vaccine by May 1,” said Justice, “and we’re confident we’re going to be ready to be able to pull that off here in West Virginia.”
The American Rescue Plan, the stimulus plan initiated by President Biden, has extended unemployment benefits for Americans through September 4. According to the governor, WorkForce WV is working with the US Dept. of Labor on specific guidance to implement the unemployment provisions under this plan. If you are currently receiving unemployment benefits, you will need to continue to fill out your weekly certifications. WorkForce WV has “programmed their system” to enable people to continue certifying, so there are no gaps in benefits once the guidelines are finalized. Further updates will come once WorkForce WV and the Dept. of Labor have finalized their guidelines.
The state’s current statistics, as of 10 a.m. Monday on the coronavirus.wv.gov dashboard were as follows: There were 5,214 active cases, with 210 new cases reported in the last 24 hours. The governor read 20 additional deaths, which, along with the 165 unreported deaths honored on Friday, bring the state death total to 2,531. The Cumulative Positivity Percentage was at 5.33% and the Daily Positivity Percentage was at 5.48%. The Rt rate was at 1.1. There were 151 daily hospitalizations and 50 ICU cases. On the County Alert Map, there were zero “Red” counties, nine “Orange” counties, six “Gold” counties, eight “Yellow” counties and 32 “Green” counties. The state has reportedly administered 390,605 first doses of vaccine and 245,196 people had been fully vaccinated. There were three outbreaks in long-term care facilities reported, as well as three church outbreaks—one each in Monongalia, Raleigh, and Nicholas Counties—and 34 inmate cases in correctional facilities with 10 staff cases.