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West Virginia Launches 1st Statewide Program in US to Measure Antibody Levels Among Vaccinated

Governor Justice announced that the State of West Virginia is launching the first statewide program in the country to test and measure antibody levels among vaccinated individuals. This new “Booster Battlefield Assessment” program is among several additional proactive efforts that are now underway as the number of Delta variant cases across the state continues to climb sharply. “In West Virginia, we now have 100 Delta variant cases,” Gov. Justice said. “This variant is different. It is much, much more contagious.”

The Governor went on to announce several action steps that will be taken immediately.  

Booster Battlefield Assessment:
The Booster Battlefield Assessment program will be an opportunity for West Virginia’s long-term care facility residents and other West Virginians ages 60 and above who were vaccinated more than six months ago to volunteer to have their blood drawn and have their antibody levels measured.

“That will allow us to gain data on antibodies and how protected you really are,” Gov. Justice said. 

State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh, who attended Thursday’s briefing in-person, noted that early studies have indicated that there may be a “significant reduction” in the amount of antibodies present in individuals six months after being vaccinated.

“We are worried that people who are older, who are more vulnerable – including our nursing home population, our long-term care facilities, and all people who are over 60 years old – who were vaccinated back in December and January when we first saw the vaccines, that they may be seeing their immune protection start to go down,” Dr. Marsh said. “With this Booster Battlefield Assessment program, we think that we can gather very valuable information that we can share with the CDC and the FDA – hopefully working hand in glove with the vaccine manufacturers – to be able to demonstrate real-world data in the U.S. that we may be able to use to benefit our population; to protect them from getting sick and dying.”

If a participant’s antibody levels are found to be low, those individuals may then qualify to receive another booster of the vaccine, should such booster shots become available.

The Booster Battlefield Assessment program is the first statewide antibody testing program in the country. Any West Virginian who would like to participate in the Booster Battlefield Assessment should call the West Virginia COVID-19 Vaccine Info Line at 1-833-734-0965. The info line is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“West Virginia has always been on the forefront with our response to COVID,” Gov. Justice said. “I am very hopeful that, with this program, West Virginia will lead the way for the nation yet again.”

Fortifying Supplies and Resources:
The Governor also announced that he has directed West Virginia’s Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) on COVID-19 to evaluate PPE supply levels across the state.

The JIATF has also been directed to evaluate hospital staffing and bed availability, long-term care facility staffing and preventative measures, and monoclonal antibody treatment levels statewide.

“We’re moving proactive and will be doing a foundational emergency planning program,” Gov. Justice said. “We need to be ready because this Delta variant is here. We have 100 cases now and we know more will be coming in the days ahead. I’ve been advised by top medical professionals that, over the next few weeks, this thing is going to get significantly worse.”

“The Governor’s primary objectives are to reduce the loss of life among West Virginians and to maintain the integrity of our hospital system,” JIATF Director Jim Hoyer said during his remarks Thursday. “What the Governor has directed us to do is to give him, as the commander of our response, a better focus on what is out in front of us and what we need to do to maintain the level of effort to achieve those two objectives that we need to get to.”

West Virginia COVID-19 Data Available at CORONAVIRUS.WV.GOV
West Virginia’s COVID-19 numbers continue to increase across the board. The total number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia has now reached 1,910; a 116.6% increase from the number of active cases less than three weeks ago.

Webster County has become the state’s first Red county on the County Alert Map System in several weeks. The map also now features seven Gold counties and 21 Yellow counties, meaning that more than half of the counties across the state are now above the Green category.

For more information about West Virginia’s latest COVID-19-related data, visit the West Virginia COVID-19 Dashboard at The dashboard provides a detailed breakdown of case numbers, vaccination data, and more; including the color-coded County Alert Map system, hospitalization data, and several additional features.

The dashboard is updated Monday-Friday at 10 a.m.

Vaccine rules announced for federal employees as COVID cases climb
President Joe Biden announced on July 29 that federal employees and onsite contractors will have to attest to their vaccination status. Unvaccinated workers will be required to wear a mask, physically distance from others, and comply with weekly or twice-weekly testing. The federal government employs more than 4 million Americans. The president also introduced new incentives to help encourage more Americans to get vaccinated, including reimbursements to small- and medium-sized businesses who give their employees time off to get their family members vaccinated.

CDC updates mask guidance for vaccinated individuals
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now recommending that vaccinated individuals who live in or visit areas where COVID-19 cases are surging wear a mask in indoor public settings, as new data on the delta variant comes to light. In a July 27 press conference, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky pointed to research that shows “in rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others.” The agency is also recommending universal masking in schools among teachers, students, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. “This new science is worrisome, and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations,” Walensky said. Fully vaccinated individuals who live with young children or people who are immunocompromised or otherwise vulnerable may also want to consider masking up in public indoor settings, the new guidance states. You can check the status of the virus in your community on the CDC’s website.

Hospitalizations among adults 65-plus are once again rising
After several months of a drastic decline, preliminary data from the past three weeks show that COVID-19 hospitalizations among older adults are increasing. “These are the first increases in rates of COVID-19-associated hospitalizations seen in this age group since April 2021,” the CDC reports. Unvaccinated individuals account for virtually all — 97 percent — of the COVID hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S., health officials said in a July 22 news briefing. So far nearly 164 million Americans are fully vaccinated, just under 50 percent of the population. Nearly 80 percent of adults 65 and older are fully vaccinated.

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