Gov. Justice, Health Officials Continue To Warn Residents About Coronavirus Delta Variant
While new cases of the coronavirus continue to decline in West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice and other health officials expressed concerns over a more contagious variant of the virus.
As of Tuesday, health officials have identified 12 cases of the Delta variant in West Virginia. Five of those cases are in Monongalia County, four are in Berkeley County. Hampshire, Marion and McDowell counties each have one case of the variant.
The number of cases of the Delta variant, which originated in India, have tripled in the state since Monday.
“The infectiousness of that variant is much faster than COVID — and it moves and everything,” Justice said during a Tuesday briefing on the state’s response to the pandemic.
He added that the Delta variant is “one that is scaring us to death.”
Justice said he and his advisors are closely watching the more contagious strand, but also noted that vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna remain highly effective against it. State Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad said vaccines are the best defense.
“Right now our priority is to make sure people get vaccinated fully,” Amjad said Tuesday. “We need to remind everyone to get fully vaccinated in West Virginia.”
State officials report that more than 834,000 West Virginians have received at least one dose of a vaccine. More than 743,000 residents are considered fully vaccinated.
In a split with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization is urging everyone — including those who are vaccinated — to continue wearing masks to protect themselves from the Delta variant. Justice lifted the state’s indoor mask mandate on June 20.
To date, West Virginia has recorded nearly 164,000 cases of the coronavirus, with almost 1,400 considered active. The virus has claimed the lives of 2,879 people in the state.
According to data from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, the state recorded 25 new cases of the virus and one new death in the last 24-hour reporting period.