Gov. emphasizes vaccine administration


CHARLESTON — Governor Jim Justice resumed his series of coronavirus press briefings on YouTube Monday, providing continual updates on the state’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Justice emphasized the importance not only of getting vaccinated, but also of getting doses of the vaccine widely distributed among different health departments. “If we don’t watch out, we are going to get caught in a situation where we have vaccines sitting on the shelf,” he warned. “We’ve got to move right now to get these vaccines in the arms of our people. We all know that absolutely every hour that goes by, that somebody that’s 70 or 80 years old that doesn’t get this vaccine, somebody’s going to die. So, if our effort is to save lives, we’ve got to move now.”

The governor also stated that 8,300 people 80 years of age or older have been vaccinated in the state of West Virginia. “Anybody can say anything they want to me,” he said, “but I guarantee you we saved lives.” Although the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department is not currently offering vaccines, Justice recommended that senior citizens and educators call their local health clinic and ask about the availability of the vaccine. A new COVID-19 vaccine “info-line” has also been opened to answer questions regarding the vaccination process and can be reached at 1 (833) 734-0965.

Including lives lost since January 1, an additional 78 coronavirus deaths were reported Monday, bringing West Virginia’s death toll attributed to COVID-19 to 1,396. One of these was Cpl. Mark Rustemeyer, a 58-year-old correctional officer who had served at St. Marys Correctional Center since 1998. His death is the first attributed to a correctional officer in West Virginia from the virus, Justice said. The governor also expressed his sadness at the loss of Capt. Chuck Sadler, who served 24 years in the Charleston Police Dept. and oversaw the training and certification standards for all West Virginia law enforcement through his role at the Justice and Community Services section of the Department of Homeland Security, in addition to being a US Army veteran.

The state’s current statistics, as of 10 a.m. Monday on the coronavirus.wv.gov dashboard is as follows: There were 27,362 active cases, with 828 new cases received in the last 24 hours. The Cumulative Positivity Percentage was at 5.07% and the Daily Positivity Percentage was at 13.81%. There were 799 daily hospitalizations with 205 ICU cases. The state’s Rt rating dropped to 1.02%, making it the 39th worst in the country. On the County Alert Map, all counties were either in the “Red” or “Orange,” except for Calhoun County, which was in the “Gold.” West Virginia has received 103,375 vaccine doses and 52,221 have been administered. There were 10 outbreaks reported in public schools, 118 outbreaks in long-term care facilities, and 16 outbreaks in churches across 12 counties. There were 601 active inmate cases reported in correctional facilities across the state, with 54 active cases among prison staff.

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