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Unreported COVID-19 deaths reduced to 165

Gov. Jim Justice provided an update during Friday’s COVID-19 press briefing on the number of unreported COVID-19-related deaths, announcing additional information reduced the number from 168 to 165. 

“I hate like crazy mistakes that are made and loved ones not respected like we should have respected them,” Justice said.

On Wednesday, Justice said 70 health care facilities across 30 counties in West Virginia failed to report these COVID-19 related deaths in a timely fashion, breaching statewide protocol and skewing statewide statistics. A list previously published show Mon Health Medical Center and J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital were among those failing to report such deaths.

Justice honored the lives of each individual during Friday’s press briefing alongside the additional eight deaths recorded since Wednesday. 

West Virginia Health Officer Ayne Amjad said the state health department is manually reviewing and vetting each individual included in the previously unrecorded data to ensure transparency and accuracy. 

Amjad said during the vetting and quality assurance process, a duplicate first and last name was found on a death reported by the Berkeley Medical Center. This medical center now has zero improperly reported deaths. Two deaths reported by the Wayne Nursing and Rehabilitation Center were also removed.

“We do want to reassure everyone that we are going to take the time to go through the death certificates with the facilities that were listed to make sure these were done and fully vetted properly,” Amjad said.

During the briefing, the governor also addressed the difficulties individuals without internet access may face when signing up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Justice said those who do not know how to sign up to get the vaccine online are encouraged to call the COVID-19 hotline at 833-734-0965. 

As of Friday, the total number of COVID-19 related deaths is up to 2, 511, with a daily positive of 2.79%.  As of Friday, 371,420 people have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 232,353 have been fully vaccinated. 

Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s COVID-19 Czar, said although the state continues to see improvements, it is still important to be diligent and follow necessary guidelines.  

“It’s important you continue to wear a mask, it’s important you continue to physically distance and not let your guard down,” Marsh said.