CHARLESTON — Governor Jim Justice continued his series of coronavirus press briefings on YouTube Wednesday, providing ongoing updates on the state’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Justice once again shared that West Virginia is leading the nation’s vaccination efforts and praised the workers who have made that possible. He added that yesterday, the state received an additional 34,960 vaccine doses and stated, “We are going to put every single last one of them in somebody’s arm before the weekend is over.”
Operation: Save Our Wisdom is reportedly seeing the success that Justice hoped it would, both in vaccinating the elderly and in providing hope. “A week ago, or a little more than that, maybe, those people that were 80+, those people really had no hope,” Justice said, “because they were told they weren’t going to get their vaccine until sometime in early April. We’ve got 30,000 of them vaccinated right now.” Justice added that West Virginia’s success has been so notable that he was invited by Alex Azar, US Secretary of Health and Human Services, to speak to Vice President Mike Pence and other state governors about what the Mountain State has been doing right.
Starting this week, the governor announced that the general public vaccination age will be lowered to 70 and over to best make use of the newly received doses. If the rollout is successful, he added, and if a large enough shipment of doses is received next week, then the following week will see the age lowered to 65 and up.
Justice also announced that 12 free vaccination clinics would be opened, starting January 13, in Berkeley, Braxton, Cabell, Greenbrier, Hardy, Harrison, Hancock, Kanawha, Monongalia, Randolph and Wood counties. These clinics require an appointment to be made and do not accept walk-ins; however, some are already fully booked. More information can be found at vaccinate.wv.gov.
Governor Justice also announced a new program created to help renters and landlords impacted by COVID-19. The Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program, administered by the West Virginia Housing Development Fund, will provide direct financial assistance to renters who have lost their job, had their income reduced, or suffered a significant loss or financial hardship because of the pandemic. “Working with our partners at the US Department of the Treasury, there’s significant money on the way to achieve just this,” the governor stated. “This program is not open yet, [but] I will update you as to when it is available.” Funds from the US Treasury are expected to be advanced to the state in late January, he added. More information will soon be available on wvdhdf.com.
The state’s current statistics, as of 10 a.m. Wednesday on the coronavirus.wv.gov dashboard were as follows: There were 27,982 active cases, with 1,189 new cases reported in the last 24 hours. The governor read 77 additional deaths that had occurred since Monday, bringing West Virginia’s death toll attributed to the virus to 1,671. The Cumulative Positivity Percentage was at 5.44% and the Daily Positivity Percentage was at 9.09%. There were 765 daily hospitalizations and 204 ICU cases. The Rt rating was at 0.93%, placing West Virginia at #48 on a national scale. On the County Alert Map, all counties were in either the “Red” or “Orange,” except for Clay and McDowell counties in the “Gold.” The state had administered 100,696 first vaccine doses and reported that 16,434 people had been fully vaccinated. There were four confirmed outbreaks reported in schools, with 15 cases between them. There were 11 outbreaks in churches across six counties, and 380 active inmate cases were reported with 37 staff cases in correctional facilities.