Government, Healthcare, Latest News, State Government, West Virginia Legislature

Justice hopes for compromise after sputtered special session; Clay Marsh comments on Paxlovid rebound after Biden tests positive

MORGANTOWN — Gov. Jim Justice’s Tuesday COVID briefing offered some insights on “rebound phenomenon,” but also veered into musings on last week’s special session that produced neither of the bills it was called to pass.

Special session

Justice called the session to deal with his income tax cut proposal, and tacked on a non-specific instruction to modernize state abortion law after the session got rolling.

The Senate killed the tax bill in favor of a resolution outlining its own property tax plan. And the abortion bill is on hold after the House rejected Senate amendments and both sides adjourned for an unspecified period.

Asked about his response to the lack of results, he said, “A lot of emotion from my standpoint. … I’m not going to perpetuate a food fight.”

On his income tax cut, he said he can’t imagine that Republicans walked away from putting money in people’s pockets. But it reflects a difference in philosophy.

“I am absolutely not opposed to some level of compromise,” he said. “Sure, we’ll continue to work together.”

Justice called the current state abortion law — passed in 1870 and subject to a court injunction — “old and ancient and they need modernized.”

During the session, legislators from both sides of the aisle criticized Justice for presenting his tax bill without seeking consensus, and for dropping the abortion bill surprise before the House and Senate had reached an agreement on the main points of the bill.

On Tuesday he said he’s willing to get all around the table to compromise. “Everybody just needs to keep working. We all need to get across the finish line; we all need to do it without throwing rocks at each other.”

COVID news

Total COVID cases are dipping slightly from Thursday’s high of 3,531, coming in at 3,111 on Tuesday, with 929 new cases reported. Hospitalizations stood at 337, with 49 in ICUs and 14 on ventilators.

COVID-19 czar Clay Marsh commented on the case of President Biden, who had COVID, tested negative and then positive again, despite taking Paxlovid.

Marsh referred to this as rebound phenomenon. It happens in somewhere from 1% to 20% of cases following a negative test.

The BA.5 omicron variant, he said, has the ability to avoid the immune system and multiply. Paxlovid causes the virus to not be able to multiply well, and so it occurs in lower concentrations in the body.

But Paxlovid is a five-day course, he said, and sometimes the disease suppression is not quite complete when the five days of dosages have passed — so the virus can rebound and the person can again test positive. It’s not a situation of the virus mutating to make Paxlovid ineffective.

There is disagreement on what to do to avoid rebound, Marsh said. Some recommend a longer course; others favor a second course. The CDC says that in the absence of new symptoms, monitoring is preferred over additional treatment.

On another topic, Marsh said the more times a person has been infected, the more likely they are to suffer long COVID — long-term post-COVID effects that can last weeks, months or years. These people can see impacts on the function of their vital organs — heart, lungs, kidneys.

Vaccination, he said, can reduce the risk of long COVID by 10% to 50%.

Also on the vaccine issue, Marsh said the White House decided against pushing for a second booster for all adults, preferring to pursue instead focusing on getting omicron-selective vaccines ready for the fall, perhaps October.

TWEET David Beard @dbeardtdp