West Virginia COVID-19 numbers improve, fight looms over vaccine exemptions

Coronavirus in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Many of West Virginia’s key COVID-19 indicators continue to drop or have hit a plateau. There were just over 1,000 new cases in the past day, but active cases have held steady near 8,500. Of bigger concern is that cases of the more dangerous Delta variant are up past 4,400. But given those numbers, Governor Jim Justice says any company that is mandating workers get vaccinated, should at least allow for religious or medical exemptions.

“I hate like crazy to see someone losing their job, you know when they do have a legitimate exemption, whether it be medical or religious, and I felt like that was the right move,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.

On a close 17-to-16 vote, the State Senate passed the vaccine exemptions for private business employees bill Tuesday night. That same bill will be debated and voted upon when the House of Delegates meets Wednesday night. Many Democrats oppose, saying putting vaccine exemptions on hospitals would be dangerous.

“But the bottom line here is you can go on Facebook and buy a religious exemption for $125. This just opens up a big can of worms, especially within our hospitals. Our hospital organizations are just trying to keep a safe workplace and now, we the government are going to tell them what to do,” said Del. Doug Skaff, (D) Kanawha – Minority Leader.

As of today, 225 people have died of COVID-19 in West Virginia, even though they were fully vaccinated. That’s a breakthrough death rate of 5.3%.

Health officials are advising people not to let their guard down. That’s because there is a new strain of the dangerous Delta variant, that has been discovered in the United Kingdom, that could arrive in the U.S. soon.

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