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More unreported COVID-19 deaths in state

Gov. Jim Justice reported 39 more COVID-19-related deaths in West Virginia Wednesday, 35 of which were previously not reported, bringing the state’s unreported — or late — death total from the virus to more than 200.

“It is unacceptable,” Justice said during his regular media briefing. “At my direction, we’re putting in a new electronic death reporting system. West Virginia was one of a few states not to have one.”

“There was no willful intent to report incorrect data. There is a problem in many states with this.”

None of the 39 reported deaths were from Monongalia County, Justice said.

The governor said 416 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported statewide since Monday. There are 6,278 confirmed cases of the virus, while 132,784 have recovered.

The number of people hospitalized because of the virus is 237, and 80 are in intensive care, he said.

“This is not over,” he said. “We see some thunder clouds.”

Both Berkeley and Raleigh counties remain red. Four long-term care facilities and six churches have breakouts of COVID-19. Plus, three inmates and 12 staff members at state correctional facilities have confirmed cases.

“You’re going to have to wear your masks for a bit longer and go get tested,” said Justice, who added he has no interest in putting additional restrictions in place.

“I have no interest in dialing back.”

To date, 72% of West Virginians 65 and older have been vaccinated and statewide, 812,015 doses have been dispensed. Anyone 16 and older living in the state is eligible for the vaccine.

Justice said the state will be getting 20,000 additional doses later this month, and is going to make a concerted effort to have churches hold vaccine drives for their members.

“We are going to ramp up in the eastern panhandle and the rest of the state,” he said.