West Virginia Coronavirus Response Adjusts to Changing Demand

Posted on 05/02/21

West Virginia has been a national leader in our COVID-19 response. We were the first state to test all nursing home residents and staff. West Virginia’s vaccination administration rate and procedures have been a model for other states.  But now, like much of the nation, West Virginia’s demand for COVID vaccinations is slowing down.

Of the 1.47 million West Virginians who are currently eligible, just over 770,000 (52%) have received at least one dose to date while 607,734 (41.2%) have been fully vaccinated. The Governor’s goal is to get more than 70% of West Virginia's eligible population vaccinated. 

Vaccinations are now available to all West Virginians age 16 and older, but West Virginians who are age 65 and older will continue to be prioritized first until all state residents in this age range who desire the vaccine have been vaccinated. Of the 367,011 West Virginians age 65 and older, 288,012 (78.5%) have received at least one dose, while 252,085 (68.7%) have been fully vaccinated.

Although vaccine eligibility opened up to all residents aged 16 and over more than a month ago, younger West Virginians have been slow to seek and receive COVID vaccines. Governor Justice recently unveiled a plan to incentivize West Virginians 16-35 to get vaccinated. 

In order to encourage more vaccinations among younger residents, West Virginia plans to use a portion of the State’s first allocation of CARES Act dollars to offer a $100 savings bond to each person from 16 to 35 years old who decides to get their vaccine. The incentive will be retroactive, meaning all West Virginians ages 16 to 35 who have already been vaccinated will also receive a $100 savings bond. Speaking directly to younger West Virginians Justice said,  “Absolutely, you are the key to this whole thing, you have to step up. It could very well save your life or a loved one’s life, and we’ll send you a savings bond on top of that.”

Justice believes that younger West Virginians are the key to reaching his goal of getting 70% of West Virginian’s vaccinated. “What will that do for us? Well, our medical experts tell us that if we get to that number, we’ll shut this pandemic down, we’ll be able to get rid of the masks and get life back to normal,” Gov. Justice said. “This is our chance to stop this pandemic right here. Let’s not let all these folks that we’ve lost die in vain. Our young people have had to stand up a lot of times over the years in West Virginia. Most of the time they were standing up to go to war. I'm not asking for you to go to war. I’m asking you to do something that could very well save your life, or save the life of your mom, your dad, your grandparents, and all your loved ones.”

Face Covering Requirements Remain in Effect
The West Virginia Statewide Indoor Face Covering Requirement remains in effect. All West Virginians age 9 and older must wear a face covering at all times inside all indoor public places, regardless of whether or not they are able to maintain proper social distance.

The requirement does not apply to anyone who has trouble breathing or is otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance, anyone who is at a restaurant and actively consuming food or drink, anyone alone in a closed or physically distanced room, or anyone actively engaged in physical activity indoors.

All businesses and organizations that invite the public into their facilities must post adequate signage advising guests of the face covering requirement and are responsible for enforcing the requirement to ensure it is being followed.

Posters are available from the DHHR’s online Face Covering Toolkit for businesses or organizations to print and display. Social media graphics are also available for download and use by the general public.

This story is provided by AARP West Virginia. Visit the AARP West Virginia page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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