All last week, Gov. Justice and other pandemic response leaders intensified their calls for West Virginians who have not yet received their first dose to reconsider getting vaccinated, as cases, hospitalizations, and the spread of the Delta variant all continue to rise. The Governor reported Friday that there are now more than 300 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant statewide. The current case total is also now more than six times higher than it was five weeks ago.
“It’s plain to see this Delta variant is here,” Gov. Justice said on Wednesday. “I urge and urge everyone to move and get vaccinated. The vaccines are tremendously effective against this variant.”
On Monday, he said, “You need to put this as a number one priority in your life.”
During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia is ready to begin administering an extra dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to certain immunocompromised people immediately following final CDC approval.
Shortly after the conclusion of the Governor’s briefing, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted unanimously to recommend that certain patients with weakened immune systems receive an extra dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna vaccines. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky must now give final approval on the ACIP’s recommendation. Once she gives the green light, qualified patients will immediately begin receiving the extra dose.
Additionally, last week Justice traveled the state to surprise the winners of the four biggest prizes given away in the 7th and final round of the “Do it or Babydog: Save a life, Change your life” Vaccination Sweepstakes.
Wally Board, who helps run his family’s realty business in his hometown of Spencer in Roane County, received a life-changing visit from Gov. Justice and Babydog yesterday. The Governor announced that Board had won the sweepstakes’ grand prize of $1,588,000.
Kara Waldeck, a pharmacy worker from Charles Town who herself has administered doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, also experienced a life-changing surprise yesterday when the Governor and Babydog presented her with the runner-up prize of $588,000.
The Governor and Babydog also surprised Paul Swartz, a registered dietitian at Jackie Withrow Hospital in Beckley, and Megan Landsberg, an adjunct professor of music at Marietta College in Ohio who lives in Vienna, West Virginia, presenting each of them with a brand-new, custom-outfitted truck.
On Monday, Justice declared that the program has been a tremendous success. More than 385,000 West Virginians registered for the sweepstakes in total. Before Gov. Justice announced the “Do it for Babydog” sweepstakes, vaccination rates in West Virginia were slowing down, with just under 900,000 residents having received at least one dose. After the Governor announced the program, however, a steady increase in the number of vaccinated residents resumed.