By Bob Weaver 11/2/2021

One of Mark Twain's most famous quotes: "I have studied the human race and I find the results humiliating."

West Virginia has gone from first to worst in COVID-19 vaccine efforts, according to polling, indicating residents tend to cling to politics over science and conspiracy theories.

According to first and second person reports, the death toll for Calhoun citizens, some Calhoun residents that died in another county or state, and Calhoun-connected citizens likely tops 25-30 deaths since the pandemic started. Officially the county has about 10 deaths.

Several dozen Calhoun citizens with COVID-19 have been left with serious and debilitating health problems, some under 30 years of age.

Republican Gov. Jim Justice went on national news shows to declare West Virginia — a place that regularly ranks near the bottom in many health indicators — “the diamond in the rough.”

Nine months later, those days are a distant memory. Demand for the vaccine has almost dried up, the question of whether to get a shot has become a political hot button, and West Virginia’s vaccination rate has plummeted to among the lowest in the states.

The vaccinated in West Virginia is a mix-match between those getting one shot, or two shots with no booster. Children will be the least vaccinated, with Babydog a slow needle mover.

This, despite West Virginians, adults and children, have taken mandated vaccines for a century, eliminating some of the world's greatest killer diseases, but now clinging to a distrust in government and such vaccinations abuse their personal rights.

The governor, who spent months preaching the virtues of the vaccine to reluctant West Virginians, is still doing that but is also promoting a new law that would allow exemptions to employer-imposed vaccination requirements.

And those shots? They’re mostly sitting on shelves.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 41% of West Virginia’s 1.8 million residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 49% have had at least one dose. The CDC says the state’s rate of about 89,000 doses administered per 100,000 population is the nation’s worst.

Officials with West Virginia’s coronavirus task force claim that the state’s percentage is actually higher and that the CDC reports only part of the data.

Nationally, 57.5% of the population is fully vaccinated and 66.5% has gotten at least one dose.

By the fall, a new wave of sickness and death arrived. Hospitals saw a crush of patients, and the number of active cases, which had dipped below 1,000 in early July, ballooned to nearly 30,000 by mid-September before falling sharply. West Virginia hospitals will continue to strained with the latest surges, with over-strained professionals quitting by the hundreds.

Pundits focus on cross-over infections, while national statistics say the overwhelming number of US cases are linked to the un-vaccinated.

West Virginia has the nation’s third-oldest population, with nearly 20% of its residents over 65. Health officials said most of the virus deaths have involved people in that vulnerable age group.

But Justice also ended a statewide indoor mask mandate in June and has opposed mandated vaccination and mask requirements since.

Since elimination of the mask mandate, he has not mentioned masking as a way to slow the virus, leaving it up to 55 county systems to act or not to act on masking.

What we have within states and nationally, a changing hodge-podge of rules, not the best way to fight a pandemic.

The country is moving toward a "live with it" strategy, an anti-government sentiment and a widely split America, with the hugest cases and deaths, a country with the resources to defeat it.