CHARLESTON, Va. (WV News) – West Virginia will install a new electronic death reporting system, Governor Jim Justice said on Wednesday. The governor ordered the Department of Health and Human Resources to immediately start work on the project.
While the system will involve all deaths, the move comes after the state recorded around 200 deaths from COVID-19 that have gone unreported for several weeks, 34 of which were announced on Wednesday.
Dr Ayne Amjad, head of public health, added that she did not yet have a cost estimate; “We will have to investigate different vendors for this. But as the governor said, we would like to implement this as soon as possible so that we can start it as soon as possible, so that we can make it work.”
The court was also asked if the DHHR could be trusted to make this decision, as the state’s six-figure payment for a vaccination database registry has been swept into some corners.
“To be brutally honest, as I always am, my answer would be that they are going to be successful, and they are going to be successful in spite of themselves in different ways,” Justice said. The governor added that the National Guard would be involved in the process; The Guard received high marks for the state’s rapid vaccine rollout in West Virginia as other states struggled.
The justice also said that the investigation did not reveal any “deliberate intention … to report incorrect data”.
The governor, however, said he believed DHHR officials had not responded with the dispatch they should have.
The state now has 2,676 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March 2020. West Virginia, at 2.488 million, is also approaching 2.5 million laboratory tests confirmed positive for the virus.
West Virginia also administered nearly 500,000 first doses of the virus, with about 315,000 people fully vaccinated. 236,000 of those 65 and over received the first dose of the vaccine, while 117,000 of them are fully immunized, Justice said.
The state’s vaccine allocation by the federal government will drop from about 50,000 this week to about 70,000 next week, Justice said.
To register to be vaccinated, call 1-833-734-0965 or visit vaccinate.wv.gov, state officials said.
Dr Clay Marsh, who heads the state’s COVID-19 medical response, said the state has identified 53 UK variants and more than 130 California variants. The latter is less fatal but also spreads more easily.
Marsh added that once West Virginia reaches a vaccination rate of around 50%, this should start to have a big positive impact on controlling the spread of the virus in general as well as the variants. He cited the experiences of countries that have had rapid vaccine deployment.
James Hoyer, the former National Guard division general who heads the vaccine task force, added officials are urging churches to contact state officials to have staff and congregations vaccinated. Hoyer also said the state would start considering how to start immunizing children between the ages of 12 and 15 soon. It comes after the announcement that the Pfizer vaccine may be on track to be approved for children in this age group.
The number of active cases in West Virginia continues to rise, reaching 6,278 active cases. Cases active in the last seven days are trained by age groups 10-19 and 20-29.
COVID-19-related hospitalizations, which fell to 151 on March 12, rose to 237.
West Virginia also has two counties in red, Justice noted, asking residents across the state to wear face masks in public buildings.
The governor has also refused to reverse any recent decisions, such as increasing the limits on public gatherings.
“But on the recall, where we are today, two deaths Tuesday, two deaths (outside of the previously unreported 34) today, the progress is phenomenal compared to where we have been,” Justice said. “I’m not interested in calling back, I’m interested in moving forward. I always keep this in my back pocket. If we’ve done that, we’ll adjust. But now is not the time we have to. adjusting ourselves I think we’re making real, real progress to stop this thing.
Marsh urged residents of the state to adhere to COVID-19 protocols because the state is truly in a “race” between vaccines and the spread of the virus.
Plus, “it’s really, really essential” that all residents of the state choose to be vaccinated because vaccines “save lives.” They are a game changer and for us in West Virginia, they are an essential part of protecting our state and continuing to be a beacon to the rest of our country, ”said Marsh.