Clay Marsh briefing

Clay Marsh during a briefing in the early days of the pandemic.

As global variants of the coronavirus continue to spread throughout parts of the world, West Virginia leaders urge residents to get vaccinated.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has decreased markedly in numbers of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths in West Virginia and in the United States,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s COVID-19 czar, in a press release. “However, when carefully looking at the data, it is evident that the impact of reduced COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths are largely in our residents who are fully vaccinated.”

As of Tuesday, just under 35% of employees and 24% of students at West Virginia University have verified their vaccinations. According to state metrics, 49% of all eligible residents aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated and 60% have received one dose.

75% of the state’s population over age 65 is fully vaccinated, as are 65% of residents over 50 years of age.

“Since the delta variant is now the most common form of COVID-19 in the world, it is on its way to the U.S. and West Virginia,” Marsh said.

He said testing has not yet detected the delta variant in the state, but West Virginia “cant afford to be complacent.”

In the United Kingdom, COVID-19 cases caused by the delta variant are doubling every 8 days. According to leading experts, the variant is thought to be at least 40% more infectious than the alpha form — the most dominant form of the virus in both West Virginia and the United States.

Data show that unvaccinated residents are most frequently infected, followed by those who received only one dose of the vaccine. A single shot is only 33% effective in preventing COVID-19 infection by the delta variant and 50% effective against the alpha variant.

Marsh said countries that have “aggressively vaccinated their population with a single dose” are witnessing a rise in new cases from the delta variant, particularly the United Kingdom.

“These infections are primarily occurring in U.K. residents that are unvaccinated or have only received one vaccination, instead of the full two-dose regimen,” Marsh said.

Throughout the world, fully vaccinated individuals with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 91% less likely to contract COVID-19 and reduces chances of hospitalization and death by 100%.

In an effort to urge state residents to get vaccinated, Gov. Jim Justice referenced the state’s 2,822 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday.

“How many of your moms and dads, how many of your grandparents, how many of them are we going to have to lose in order to be able to just say … ‘I’m going to step up. I’m going to get vaccinated,’” Justice said.

June 20, West Virginia Day, will mark the end of the mask mandate throughout the state.

“Let’s go, West Virginia. Shine the light,” Marsh said. “Choose vaccination.”

Summer Editor

I'm a sophomore journalism student, minoring in English and professional writing, from Charleston, West Virginia, and the DA's video editor. I'm responsible for managing the video team, and together we create a wide range of visual content for the paper.