West Virginia reaches new record high for active cases; Gov. Justice announces expansion of monoclonal antibody clinics

CHARLESTON — During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Jim Justice announced that West Virginia has reached a new record high number of active COVID-19 cases for the entire pandemic.

There are now 29,744 active cases; up more than 2,100 cases from the Governor’s previous briefing on Wednesday.

The statewide death toll from COVID-19 reached 3,370 on Friday, with 74 more deaths being reported since the Governor’s previous briefing just two days ago, including 18 as a result of the DHHR’s data reconciliation with official death certificates.

“Unfortunately, today we have an overwhelming amount of deaths,” Gov. Justice said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to do one of two things: we’re either going to run to the fire and get vaccinated right now or we’re gonna pile the body bags up.”

West Virginia also saw new record highs Friday for total hospitalizations (922), ICU patients (277), and the number of patients on ventilators (169).

Over 82% of West Virginians who are hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated and over 91% of those in ICUs and on ventilators due to COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

Meanwhile, the County Alert System map now shows that 52 of the state’s 55 counties are now in either the highest-risk Red category or one step below in the Orange category.

Also on Friday, Gov. Justice announced expanded monoclonal antibody distribution to numerous pharmacies, community health centers, and local health departments across West Virginia.

Distribution has expanded to over 30 counties this week alone and will expand to all counties as quickly as possible.

The West Virginia Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) will be working directly with health organizations to stand up these clinics and secure the antibodies for distribution to patients.

“As the Governor has pointed out before, the antibodies are not a replacement for the vaccine, but they are a life saving tool, particularly if we get to an individual at the appropriate time,” JIATF Director Jim Hoyer said. 

The Governor was joined for the announcement by Kanawha-Charleston Health Department Executive Director and Health Officer Dr. Sheri Young and Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper. The KCHD announced yesterday that they will be operating a monoclonal antibody clinic at their health department’s Charleston offices.

“Thank you Governor Justice and your wonderful team for allowing us to be on today and talking about our work here in Kanawha County. Without you, making sure that we have the supplies that we will need moving forward, we wouldn’t be able to make the announcement that we are doing monoclonal antibody infusions, starting today, here at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department,” Dr. Young said. “So far we have successfully treated six individuals who were COVID-positive, and we’re happy to report that they’re all doing very well.”

“We are proud to follow your leadership, Governor Justice, and frankly, when I first heard you a long time ago refer to COVID as a monster, well, if COVID was the monster, then Delta is the spawn of a monster,” Carper said. “We know what it does. It’s killing people all over this country, all over your state of West Virginia, and it’s because of a lack of people getting vaccinations, not their availability.”