CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Governor and state health officials are urging West Virginians to get tested for COVID-19 if they start feeling ill, have been exposed to the virus or just want reassurance they haven’t been exposed.
After announcing the state has reached 2,800 deaths in connection to COVID-19, the governor said people getting tested allows health officials to not only prevent further spread but catch and treat the disease early, potentially saving more lives.
“Testing soon and identifying this virus early can save your life,” said Bill Crouch, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources cabinet secretary. “We do have antibody treatments throughout the state, but you must test early and you must seek antibody treatments early.”
The governor also shared some good news during his semi-daily COVID-19 briefing, saying more than two-thirds of the 65 and above population have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Health officials are working to get at least 85% of the age group vaccinated.
Justice and health officials also continued encouraging younger West Virginians to get vaccinated against the virus, as a majority of spread in recent weeks was among these age groups. Over the past seven days, the highest totals of weekly cases have been reported among the 10-19 age group with 520 new cases, and the 40-49 age group with 430 new cases. The state says the 70 and over age group had the lowest weekly total with 141 new cases.
As of Wednesday, April 21, the state has administered a total of 1,179,328 doses of the vaccine, including both first and second shots. From that number, 520,206 West Virginians have been fully vaccinated and 687,045 people in the state have received at least their first dose of the vaccine.
Retired Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, director of the WV Joint InterAgency Task Force, says the state is starting to see vaccine hesitancy point in the state. According to Hoyer, the agency has been working with the CDC to get a more clear view of the numbers of COVID-19 vaccines within the state.
While two-thirds of the 65 and up population have been fully vaccinated and just under 47% of the eligible population (16 and up) have received at least one dose of the vaccine, he says it is important to get the rest of the state past that hesitancy to continue the state’s vaccination efforts and prevent further spread of the virus.
“We know from our other data that our death rates have dropped substantially, but we’re still losing West Virginians,” Hoyer said calling on civic groups, churches, athletic teams, businesses and other West Virginians to encourage others to get vaccinated. “Now what we’ve got to do is continue to show the rest of the country and the world what we’re all about as a people and taking care of each other.”
Hoyer says if any groups or businesses want to schedule an event to help their members and employees get the opportunity to get vaccinated, they can reach out to the DHHR. The state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Info Line is 1-833-734-0965.