During his Monday COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Jim Justice, as well as state health officials said the recent appearance of the COVID-19 U.K. variant – which originated in the United Kingdom – in Morgantown will not affect vaccination efforts. Officials said the two of the three people are with West Virginia University and none had any interaction with the campus during the time they would be considered contagious.
“It is just the unfolding of the virus,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s coronavirus czar.
Two people from Monongalia County – a 71-year-old female and 75-year-old male – were among the 15 West Virginians who died since Friday because of COVID-19 complications, Gov. Jim Justice said Monday during a media briefing.
The number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia is 8,795, Justice said.
“This is the first time we have been below 9,000 cases since Nov. 12,” the governor said.
Overall, the state had 238 new cases of the virus for a positivity rate also of 4.87%. There are 294 people hospitalized, 80 of whom are in intensive care units. Plus, there are 19 outbreaks at personal care homes, and at two churches; one in Fayette County and one in Webster County.
“There are also no red counties,” said Justice adding this is the 36th straight day that the number of coronavirus cases has declined.
The state has administered 269,670 first doses of coronavirus vaccine, and 166,272 people have received both shots. The governor is still pushing for residents aged 65 and older in several counties to register for the vaccine. This includes Monongalia County
Forty-four states, including the states surrounding West Virginia, have reported cases of the U.K. variant. Even though the current vaccines are effective against the new virus strain, officials said this version tends to be more transmittable.
WVU also recently partnered with the state Department of Health and Human Resources and Marshall University to study the different coronavirus variants with the end goal of containing virus outbreaks.