Too often when I see a headline in a national publication that mentions West Virginia, I hold my breath. We have all read many stories over the years that portray the Mountain State in a poor light.
But there were two national stories this past weekend where West Virginia shined.
The New York Times prominently featured a story about how our state has done a better job than every other state with Covid vaccinations so far. The headline read, “How West Virginia Became a U.S. Leader in Vaccine Rollout.”
Reporter Sarah Mervosh quotes a variety of sources explaining how West Virginia has gotten traction with the vaccine distribution. “West Virginia is about at the top of the charts,” Dr. Mark McClellan, a former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told the Times.
“We need to get more states to the point that they have the vaccination capacity of West Virginia,” he said.
According to the DHHR dashboard, as of Monday, West Virginia had administered 166,358 first doses. That represents 106 percent of the first doses received, because those giving the injections have been able to squeeze extra doses out of vials.
Additionally, West Virginia has opened a centralized registration system to better organize the applications for vaccines.
The rollout is far from perfect, but it is improving every week and it is better than the rest of the country.
On a completely different front, the Washington Post published a story in its Travel section about the country’s latest National Park designation. The headline reads, “New River Gorge: America’s Newest National Park is One of West Virginia’s Hidden Gems.”
The story explains how Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin were able to include the coveted National Park declaration in the omnibus spending bill last month. However, reporter Kate Morgan focuses more on the uniqueness of the New River Gorge and its myriad attractions for outdoor enthusiasts.
“There are moments, as you drift through the deep canyon walls of the New River Gorge, when it feels like you’ve got the world to yourself,” Morgan writes.
She also points out that the New River Gorge is only five hours from Washington, D.C. As Capito told the paper, “People are coming here from places that are busy and congested, and I think they appreciate the quiet. When you get down in the gorge, you’re removed from what’s going on in modern America.”
We know we have problems in West Virginia, probably more than our share. However, it is also important to take stock of our successes and value our attributes. It is especially gratifying when visitors—in this case writers from elsewhere—can see our beauty or chronicle our accomplishments and tell others about them.