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W.Va., Ohio governors discuss vaccinations and variants

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 5:25 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 21, 2021 at 5:38 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va., CEDARVILLE, Ohio- (WTAP) - Gov. Jim Justice Wednesday hinted at when requirements for face coverings in West Virginia may be lifted.

The governor, in his COVID-19 briefing, said those regulations might be dropped when the state reaches a rate of 70% of the population that’s fully vaccinated.

Vaccination rates in the state-at a nationwide high of nearly 100%-have fallen as vaccines have been made available to people as young as 16 years of age.

The latest numbers show just above 50% of eligible people have received the first vaccination dose. 37.8% are fully vaccinated.

”We;re seeing the most spread in our 10-19 year old group, said Dr. Clay Marsh, a member of the state’s coronavirus task force. “So it’s really important for us to take the opportunity we have in West Virginia, as we have before, to vaccinate as many people as possible, slow the spread down, and make sure we are protecting West Virginia from the same kind of problems we’re seeing in Michigan or we’re seeing in Brazil.”

More than two-thirds of people 65 and older have been fully vaccinated.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced in March state restrictions-which, unlike West Virginia, still include social distancing and capacity requirements-could be lifted when the state reaches a mark of 50 cases per 100,000 population for two consecutive weeks.

27% of Ohioans have been fully vaccinated, and health experts are concerned about the effects of variants.

DeWine said Wednesday that, while the overall number of COVID-19 cases has recently “plateaued”, the virus has become more contagious.

And Ohio Health Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff noted the variants can cause people to get sick, even though they may not have had as much exposure to others with the virus.

”Until we get a lot more vaccines in people’s arms, the unvaccinated are simply playing a COVID lottery, and it’s a lottery whose consequences are pretty stark,” Vanderhoff said.

The state health department is rolling out a new series of public service advertisements, aimed at young people and encouraging them to be vaccinated.

Earlier in the day, Justice signed into law three bills recently passed by the West Virginia Legislature: one requiring drug discounts or rebates negotiated by insurance companies to be passed on to patients.

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