During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia health officials have identified the state’s first cases of the BA.2 Omicron sub-variant – also known as “Stealth Omicron” – in Berkeley and Ohio counties.

“As always, when these variants pop up in West Virginia, we shouldn’t be surprised, but we need to take action and protect ourselves by getting our shots,” Gov. Justice said. “If you’re fully vaccinated and you still haven’t gotten your booster shot, I just don’t get it.”

“All of our medical experts have told you over and over that, if you aren’t boosted, your protection level, for all practical purposes, is zero,” Gov. Justice continued. “How can you continue to wait? The number one thing you need to do today is get that booster shot.”

State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh went into more detail about this latest variant.

“It’s been called the ‘stealth’ variant, not because it’s any worse than the original Omicron, but because it has different properties when you use genetic tests to identify it. But what is clear, in some countries, this variant has become the dominant variant and has out-competed the first variant, BA.1,” Dr. Marsh said. “We’ll watch it carefully. It doesn’t seem like it’s any more severe than BA.1. It may be a bit more contagious. But the immunity that we’ve gained in West Virginia from vaccines, and, we hope, more boosters, along with people that have been infected and recovered from Omicron recently, should provide us the necessary immune protection so that BA.2 does not spread widely.”