West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice on nursing house rollout

West Virginia is well on its way to delivering Covid-19 vaccines in all long-term care facilities by the end of this year, Republican Governor Jim Justice told CNBC on Tuesday.

This would be a significant milestone in West Virginia’s efforts to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus. Although less than 6% of the state’s coronavirus cases account for about 31% of all Covid-19 deaths in West Virginia, according to the COVID Tracking Project run by journalists from The Atlantic . The figures are based on the latest available data for the past week.

West Virginia began administering shots at its long-term care facilities last week after the Food and Drug Administration granted Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine limited approval. The state has since received doses of Moderna’s vaccine after it was approved for emergency use on Friday.

West Virginia administered approximately 8,100 doses of Pfizer BioNTech at 71 of its 214 long-term care facilities last week, according to Maj. Holli Nelson, a spokesman for the West Virginia National Guard. On average, about 80% of people in a facility wanted to be vaccinated, she told CNBC. Vaccinations are running this week for employees and residents of the remaining long-term care facilities, Nelson said.

In an interview on Squawk on the Street, Justice said West Virginia could start vaccinations in nursing homes earlier than many parts of the country because it relied on local pharmacies.

“Our great National Guard and all of our health officials came up with the idea of ​​basically recruiting all local pharmacies,” Justice said. He added that West Virginia may have given its first dose of vaccine in its long-term care facilities “before many states start”. Both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines require two injections a few weeks apart.

Jim Justice, Governor of West Virginia.

Scott Halleran / Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have partnered with Walgreens, CVS and select other pharmacy chains to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. CVS and Walgreens started delivering footage at some facilities on Friday before starting a wider rollout in the US this week.

More than 40,000 long-term care facilities have selected CVS to provide vaccinations through on-site clinics, CNBC previously reported. Walgreens will provide vaccinations in approximately 35,000 long-term care facilities.

Healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities were given priority by each state in their initial vaccine allocation plans. In West Virginia, in developing his own distribution plans, Justice “stated that his priority is to vaccinate residents and long-term care workers immediately,” West Virginia National Guard’s Maj .

“In our discussions, we opted for a slightly different approach than the plans used nationwide, as around 53-54% of our state’s pharmacies are not linked to the chain,” said Hoyer.

Long-term care facilities in the US are particularly hard hit by Covid-19 outbreaks. As the country’s epidemic worsened this fall, there was another spike in cases and deaths at the facilities. For this reason, the introduction of a vaccine comes at a critical time.

West Virginia is one of ten states where coronavirus cases are increasing on average by seven days, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Hospital admissions for Covid-19 patients also rose 8.4% in the past week. This is evident from the CNBC analysis of the data from the COVID tracking project.

– CNBC’s Nate Rattner contributed to this report.

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