CHARLESTON — Governor Jim Justice continued his series of coronavirus press briefings on YouTube Tuesday, following the federal holiday on Monday, and provided updates on the state’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Justice announced the expansion of vaccination services to those age 65 and older to comply with CDC recommendations, adding that while all citizens in their 70s or 80s may not be vaccinated, he wishes to keep pace with national recommendations so that new shipments will be available to West Virginia whenever they are needed.
The governor also plans to implement a “new system” to help keep West Virginians updated about vaccine distribution/availability, to, in his own words, “get away from you calling and sitting on the phone for hours on end and trying to get someone lined up to take a shot.” However, he once again emphasized that vaccination rollout can only proceed as quickly as new doses can be received and assigned.
Justice addressed the reopening of in-person learning for the spring semester and said 48 out of the state’s 55 counties were in school on Tuesday. “Some of the counties are phasing in through a blended model while others are starting with four to five days of in-person,” the governor explained. “Masks are mandated for all children age 9 and above, and all teachers and employees will be wearing them as well. We have approximately 50,000 children who will remain in virtual learning.” Justice added that counties in the “red” category of the DHHR County Alert Map will not attend in-person instruction until out of the “red” status.
The governor took a moment to mourn the passing of WV Department of Veterans Assistance Cabinet Secretary Dennis Davis. “Dennis lived a lifetime of service to the state of West Virginia, and to his country,” Justice said. “He had a profound impact on more than 137,000 brave veterans who call West Virginia their home. Without question, [he was] an absolute patriot in every way who cared deeply for the heroes … who served our nation.” Davis was appointed by Justice to his cabinet at the beginning of the governor’s first term in 2017; over the course of four years, the governor said there was “never one second of regret.” Justice extended his condolences to Davis’ family and thanked all Americans who have served or are serving.
The state’s current statistics, as of 10 a.m. Wednesday on the coronavirus.wv.gov dashboard are as follows: There were 26,217 active cases, with 857 new cases received in the last 24 hours. The state’s death toll attributed to the virus was up to 1,836. The Cumulative Positivity Percent was at 5.52% and the Daily Positivity Percent was at 7.70%. The state’s Rt rating on Tuesday was at 0.85%, the lowest in the entire nation. The total number of first doses of the vaccine administered were up to 134,037 26,162 people had been fully vaccinated as of Wednesday morning.