COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice, state medical experts discuss pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine administration in West Virginia


CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia health leaders and other officials today for his latest daily press briefing regarding the State’s COVID-19 response.
During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice and state medical experts discussed their decision yesterday to pause all use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in West Virginia until further notice, out of an abundance of caution and upon the recommendations of the CDC and the FDA.

Yesterday, the CDC and the FDA released a joint statement on their recommendation, which reads in part:
As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine have been administered in the U.S. CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia). FULL STATEMENT
“This recommendation was based on six total cases – out of 6.8 million vaccines – of an extremely rare occurrence,” State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh said during today’s briefing.

“It’s one-in-a-million,” Gov. Justice added. “I hope and pray that the Johnson & Johnson folks can get this cleaned up from the standpoint of safety because we want it to be incredibly safe. But this pause is out of an abundance of caution.”
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, through the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), has not received any reports of these extremely rare blood-clotting events in West Virginia residents who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The DHHR will continue to monitor for instances going forward.

“It is very important for you to know there has been nothing but rave reviews about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines,” Gov. Justice said. “We will continue to have those vaccines available to you. We’re not going to slow up on our vaccination events; we’re going to continue to push forward. We need you to come in and get your shots.”
“These vaccines are very safe. Suffice it to say that we know that these vaccines are really responsible, primarily, for the 90% reduction in deaths that we’ve seen over the first 13 weeks of 2021 along with the reduction in hospitalizations,” Dr. Marsh said. “We know that the ultimate ending to our story here is going to be directly related to West Virginians and Americans who are going to choose to get vaccinated to protect themselves and to protect each other.

“As we get toward the number of people that will get us into that range of herd immunity – the 75% to 80%, or so, of people that would need to become vaccinated and immune – then we know that we will be able to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the variants,” Dr. Marsh continued. “The real key for us is to have all West Virginians who have not yet been vaccinated, who are eligible to be vaccinated, to please choose to do so. In doing that, we are all running to the fire, we are all taking care of each other, and we are, again, shining the light brightly from the state of West Virginia for all others to follow. So it is really a critical time, and it is up to us.”
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that FEMA is now providing financial assistance for funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020, for deaths related to COVID-19.

“The intent is to help ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the pandemic,” Gov. Justice said.

FEMA is now accepting applications for this new COVID-19 Funeral Assistance through a dedicated call center. West Virginians who are eligible for this financial assistance should call the toll-free COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number: 844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585 to apply. The assistance line is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

For more information, visit FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance or Funeral Assistance FAQ webpages.
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has decreased once again, dropping to 5.9% for the month of March; the first time the unemployment rate has fallen below 6% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

West Virginia’s unemployment rate has declined for 11 consecutive months and is now better than the national unemployment rate.

“We're bouncing back better than most states across our country, and we continue to show the world that, as we continue to push the right buttons in West Virginia, we're whipping this pandemic,” Gov. Justice said. “Our people that are back to work and our economy is doing well because we built it on a very sound, solid foundation.

“We continue to be that diamond in the rough that many, many folks missed,” Gov. Justice continued.

Click here to view WorkForce West Virginia’s most recent Labor Force Summary

Click here to view available jobs in West Virginia
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia has now successfully administered 1,114,670 vaccine doses after receiving a total allotment of 1,215,920 doses from the federal government to date; an overall administration rate of 91.7%.

To date, 670,092 West Virginians have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 471,901 West Virginians have been fully vaccinated.

West Virginia COVID-19 Dashboard (Click “Vaccine Summary” tab)
Vaccinations are now available to all West Virginians age 16 and older. However, West Virginians who are age 65 and older will continue to be prioritized first until all state residents in this age range who desire the vaccine have been vaccinated.

To date, 258,353 West Virginians age 65 and older have chosen to be vaccinated, including 219,536 who are now fully vaccinated.

At the Governor’s direction, the Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) has established three fixed-location vaccination clinics in Berkeley, Kanawha, and Monongalia counties to ensure that every West Virginian age 65 and older has access to a vaccine.

All West Virginians age 65 and older are urged to pre-register for an appointment by visiting or calling the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965. The info line is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Vaccinations also continue to be made available at Walgreens locations, the Med Shoppe/Leader network of pharmacies, Walmart locations, and additional independent pharmacies throughout the state as part of the federal pharmacy partnership in West Virginia.

West Virginians can go to for assistance in locating and securing an appointment at one of these federal pharmacy partners.
The JIATF continues to reach out to manufacturers and businesses across the state to increase vaccine access for employees and their families choosing to be vaccinated by organizing vaccination clinics at these facilities.

Additionally, church leaders are still being urged to contact the JIATF for help organizing vaccination clinics for interested members of their congregations.

Anyone interested in organizing one of these vaccination clinics is asked to contact the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965.
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that the current number of active cases in the state is now 7,309, down from 7,470 as of his previous COVID-19 briefing on Monday.

The number of active hospitalizations is now 239, down from 271 on Monday. Of those currently hospitalized, 57 are in the ICU, down from 82 such patients on Monday.

The cumulative percent of positive cases is now 5.22%, down from 5.23% on Monday.

Click here to view the latest COVID-19 data
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice provided a look at West Virginia’s latest mid-week County Alert System map update.

The map is updated live on the DHHR’s COVID-19 Dashboard (Click "County Alert System" tab) throughout the week.

Red counties: 2
Orange counties: 6
Gold counties: 7
Yellow counties: 14
Green counties: 26
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that there remain eight active church-related outbreaks in West Virginia. The active outbreaks are located in Fayette, Grant, Harrison, Kanawha, Nicholas, and Raleigh counties and account for a total of a total of 84 cases, up from 80 such cases as of the Governor’s previous COVID-19 briefing on Monday.

There remain 10 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state.

The Governor also reported that there are now 61 inmate cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) system, down significantly from 101 such cases on Monday. Meanwhile, there are now eight active staff cases across the DCR system, down from 11 such cases on Monday.

DCR has also been made aware that three additional inmate deaths have been confirmed as COVID-19-related. All three were male inmates who had underlying health conditions and were all hospitalized when they died. This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 inmate deaths to 13. There have also been two DCR staff deaths attributed to COVID-19.

To view the latest DCR case update, or to learn more about DCR facility vaccination efforts, click here.
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice provided an overview of the 52 counties across the state that have free testing events scheduled through the Governor’s Aggressive Testing initiative.
This testing is available to all residents, including asymptomatic individuals. Proof of insurance is not required. Attendees should bring identification, such as a driver’s license or proof of address, to help in returning test results. Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

An interactive online map of all free testing locations across West Virginia is available online. Users can filter the map by type of testing site, including daily testing events, recurring testing events, as well as Walgreens and Fruth Pharmacy testing locations. Users can also filter by county. Each location is marked on the map with a pin. After finding a testing location nearby, users are able to click on the pin for more information about that particular testing site, including the specific location and timeframe during which testing will be held.

Click here to view all locations, dates, times, and more details
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice took time to provide a reminder that all businesses in West Virginia must continue to follow all applicable COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Click here to view all active guidance documents
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice provided a reminder that his Statewide Indoor Face Covering Requirement remains in effect.

All West Virginians age 9 and older to wear a face covering at all times inside all indoor public places, regardless of whether or not they are able to maintain proper social distance. The order requires that all businesses and organizations that invite the public into their facilities must post adequate signage advising guests of the requirement and are also responsible for enforcing the requirement to ensure it is being followed.

Click here to read more details about the face covering requirement

Posters are available on the DHHR’s online Face Covering Toolkit for businesses or organizations to print and display. Social media graphics are also available for download and use by the general public.
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice once again encouraged all West Virginians to consider donating blood and plasma through the American Red Cross.

Those fully recovered from a verified COVID-19 diagnosis may have plasma in their blood containing COVID-19 antibodies that can attack this virus. This plasma may be able to be used as a treatment for currently ill COVID-19 patients.

For more information, visit or call the local American Red Cross offices at 304-340-3650.
Click here to view all Executive Orders and other actions taken by Gov. Justice to combat the spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia.

For more information about COVID-19 prevention and more, call the State’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-887-4304 or visit
Additional media content, including video clips and/or photos from this event, will be posted on the Governor's Office website as they become available. You can find a link on the thumbnail image at the top of this press release.
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Jordan Damron,


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