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Coronavirus cases, deaths drop in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — New confirmed coronavirus cases in West Virginia sharply declined last week and the number of deaths were the lowest since early December.

There were nearly 2,700 confirmed cases, down 30% from the previous week. Deaths linked to COVID-19 dropped to 107 from a record of 206 one month ago.

West Virginia’s coronavirus czar said last Friday that vaccinations are already reducing COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations in the state. Dr. Clay Marsh, a high-ranking West Virginia University health official, had attributed the decline in deaths and hospitalizations to the “aggressive vaccination” campaign that has already reached all nursing homes to offer second shots.

Gov. Jim Justice said on Monday that he expects an increase in the federal government’s weekly shipment of vaccines, bringing the state’s allocation of first doses to about 30,000.

“We are getting close to 6,000 additional doses per week, and that’s going to help,” Justice said.

Officials have said they want at least 125,000 doses a week to reach the state’s full capability of administering shots.

Last week, state data show 25,400 people received their first doses of the vaccine, with 12.3% of the state’s population now receiving at least one shot. The separate doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna should be taken within a few weeks to reach their full effect.

The pace of administering first doses slowed somewhat, with 2,700 fewer shots going out compared to the previous week. But there was a record of 37,497 people receiving their second and final dose, pushing the state population’s share of fully vaccinated to nearly 6%.

More than 112,400 residents aged 65 and older have received at least one shot.

In addition to senior citizens among the general public, teachers 50 and over and health care workers are also currently eligible for vaccines. Officials urge everyone over the age of 16 to preregister for a vaccine online at vaccinate.wv.gov. The system plans to notify residents when their time has come for an appointment.

Hospitalizations declined to 375 coronavirus patients on Monday, far below the record of 818 in early January, but still higher than early fall 2020.

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