Government, Healthcare, Latest News, State Government

Justice and team: Pandemic winding down but not over yet

MORGANTOWN — COVID numbers in West Virginia and across the nation are improving, but it’s too soon to relax, Gov. Jim Justice and his team said Monday.

The numbers: 1,850 active cases; 1,223 new cases; 298 hospitalized; 49 in ICUs; and 18 on ventilators.

Commenting on the hospital numbers, Joint Interagency Task Force Director Gen. James Hoyer said, “While that is a manageable number, we need to understand that we need to continue to draw down the pressure,” as we head into fall and winter and the flu season.

He and the rest of the team again encouraged vaccinations and the new omicron-specific booster.

Public Health Commissioner Ayne Amjad said people are wondering if they can take the COVID booster and the flu and pneumonia vaccines at the same time.

The answer is yes, she said. Typical flu season is November–March and signs are this will be a bad season.

Over the weekend, President Biden told 60 Minutes, “The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. It’s — but the pandemic is over.”

Justice and the team took a question on that comment.

Justice chuckled and deferred the answer to Amjad, but first said he and those watching know, “Oftentimes I don’t think President Biden has any idea what he is saying. … It’s just crazyland in my book.”

Amjad disagreed with Biden: “I wouldn’t say that the pandemic is over. I would say that it’s maybe tending downward or hit a plateau.”

Hoyer agreed that it’s too soon to sit back. “We may be out of pandemic phase and into endemic state,” but it’s important to understand “even in endemic, people will die, public health work has to be done. … There is still a lot of work to be done and a lot of work that goes on every day behind the scenes.”

Justice wrapped up, saying the goal is to save lives. “If we just bundle it up and say, ‘Pandemic’s over,’ more people will die.”

Amjad also fielded a question on the recently passed-and-signed HB 302 updating state abortion law. Opponents have said that the possibility that ob/gyns could face loss of license for violating the law may hamper recruitment and retention of those physicians.

Amjad agreed with Justice that the the parameters are spelled out in the law and the key is intent to break it. She said, “If a physician and a patient are doing something by the law then there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.”

TWEET David Beard @dbeardtdp