Governor Jim Justice and his advisers held the last COVID-19 press conference of 2021 on Thursday morning, presenting a worrying outlook for the Mountain State entering 2022, with omicron and delta on the verge of skyrocketing.
“We are preparing to see the storm arrive in West Virginia as it does in many other states,” said COVID Czar Dr. Clay Marsh.
It indicated a national average of 301,000 new cases per day this week, calling it the highest transmission week in pandemic history. Later that day, The New York Times and other media reported that the United States broke its own record on Wednesday, with 488,988 new cases across the country.
Marsh announced that new DNA sequencing data from the West Virginia State Laboratory showed omicron increased from 3% of all cases in the state to 15%. This follows the national trend and implies that the incidence of omicron in West Virginia could increase next week.
He went on to urge caution in today’s holiday celebrations, including being careful of who you are around, switching to high-quality masks and testing.
Public Health Commissioner Ayne Amjad stressed the need to exercise caution during New Year’s celebrations.
“If you are planning to party with your family and friends it would be a good idea to get tested… Also, if you are not feeling well, skip the event if possible. Just be safe for the new year ahead, ”she said.
As at Tuesday’s press conference, attention was drawn to the upsurge in hospitalizations among children. Marsh previously reported a 35% increase in hospitalizations with children who tested positive over the past week, but changed that number on Thursday.
“We have also seen that in our most poorly immunized part of our population, our children, there has been an increase of about 58% in hospitalizations over the past week to two weeks in hospitals across the country,” he said. he declared.
Marsh noted that the Food and Drug Administration is considering approving vaccine booster shots for young children ages 5 to 12, as well as reducing the booster period from six months to five months after the second dose for everyone. .
When asked why hospitalization rates for children weren’t made public in West Virginia, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services secretary Bill Crouch said the daily reports association of hospitals can be difficult to interpret, but also pose a risk to privacy.
“We don’t understand (the age) of patients in hospitals. Hospitals, especially small hospitals that have a small number of cases, maybe one or two, could be identified… We don’t have as much information as you might think in terms of hospitalizations. This information is exclusive information of the hospital association, ”he said.
Crouch assured that his team will continue to try to provide all information available to the public.
Another reporter asked if it was not time to adopt measures other than vaccination, given the dire warnings that Marsh and Joint Interagency Task Force Director James Hoyer have been making for weeks on end regarding the massive and imminent increase in cases.
“It’s a tough decision. I do not believe in the mandate of people from the point of view of their freedoms and everything that we have in life. It made us who we are, ”Justice said.
Justice ended the press conference by praising his advisers, and wished everyone a Happy New Year.