COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice announces face covering requirement to end on West Virginia Day as “Call to Arms” vaccination initiative underway


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 Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that, after consulting with State medical experts regarding vaccination rates, the Statewide Indoor Face Covering Requirement will be lifted on the State’s 158th birthday –also known as West Virginia Day – Sunday, June 20, 2021.

“We believe that all West Virginians 12 years of age and older will be eligible to take the vaccine soon, and by June 20th, we project that 65% of all eligible West Virginians will have the first dose at that point in time, 75% of our population that's 50 and above will have the first dose at that time, and 85% of our population that’s 65 and above will also have the first shot at that time,” Gov. Justice said. “So that's the date we're going to go with. It just coincides perfectly with the celebration of this absolutely incredible State on its birthday.”
“Naturally, it will still be your choice, when you’re in public, whether you want to have a mask on or not,” Gov. Justice continued. “But the mandate will be lifted.”

In the run up to that date, the State is beginning another push to get more West Virginians vaccinated.

“We're going to call this our ‘Call to Arms’ initiative,” Gov. Justice said. “We need the arms to put shots into. So this is West Virginia's ‘Call to Arms,’ and we're going to absolutely target and achieve these things, but we need your help.”

Gov. Justice went on to say that, as part of the initiative, he is once again asking West Virginians who have already been vaccinated to ask their loved ones to be vaccinated as well, especially younger West Virginians ages 16-35 years old.

“In our ‘Call to Arms’ program, we are, once again, calling on all West Virginians to help us reach these goals of the percent of our population vaccinated with at least one shot,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, State Coronavirus Czar. “When you look across the world and look at the countries that are doing the best job of immunizing, particularly Israel, they saw a huge beneficial point of inflection when they got to 60% of their population vaccinated.

“As we target 65% of our vaccine-eligible population with at least one shot, 75% of our over 50-year-old population who's vaccine eligible with at least one shot, and then 85% of our over 65-year-old population with at least one shot, we believe that we will then have the ability to safely to be able to remove the mask mandate,” Dr. Marsh continued. “So it is very important that we all pull the rope together...We have done very well. We've been a beacon for the country, and we’ll have one heck of a celebration ready to go on June 20th where, once again, we celebrate our caring and service to each other and to this great state.”
Once again on Friday, Gov. Justice and State pandemic response leaders offered a reminder that West Virginia stands ready to hold vaccination clinics at schools in all 55 counties across the state as soon as the U.S. FDA and CDC authorize use of the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12-15.

Authorization is anticipated within the next week.

The West Virginia Department of Education estimates that there are 78,000 students ages 12-15 who are eligible for the vaccine in the state’s K-12 schools.

“As soon as 12-to-15-year-olds are eligible for the vaccine, we will start that day or the next day with delivery,” said West Virginia Joint Interagency Task Force Director Jim Hoyer. “We are going to open up at the Governor's direction to make sure that, when we do clinics in schools, they are available to not just the 12-to-15-year-olds, but also to entire families who still may have not gotten the vaccine.”
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice announced that, with vaccine supply outweighing demand, and with the vaccine now available from the federal government at hundreds of locations across West Virginia, the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Registration System will be phased out over the next week.

“It has absolutely been an incredibly successful tool for us,” Gov. Justice said. “It has served us well. But now, we don’t need to continue going through the same registration process.”

The COVID-19 Vaccine Registration System, announced on Jan. 25, 2021, allowed state vaccination organizers to immediately begin taking pre-registrations while waiting for the vaccine supply to increase.

As a result, West Virginia’s vaccination rates were among America's best in the critical first weeks of nationwide vaccine distribution.

“What we, as a pandemic leadership team, have recommended to the Governor is we no longer have to use the central registration process, because we have vaccines abundantly available across different methods, whether it's pharmacies, health clinics, and now we are entering into efforts with primary care providers,” Hoyer said. “We will continue to use the system for messaging as we continue to press out the notices to get the vaccines.”

On Tuesday this week, all individuals registered in the system were sent a message encouraging them to call the COVID-19 Vaccine Info Line (1-833-734-0965) to schedule a vaccination if they or a family member have not already done so.

As a result of this outreach effort, 973 West Virginians called the info line to request a vaccine.
Additionally Friday, West Virginia DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch took time during his remarks to remind West Virginians of the importance of mental health.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and the 15th month of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Although we tend to focus on our physical health, our mental health is vital to our overall well-being,” Sec. Crouch said. “This last year has been difficult for everyone. It has been a time of isolation and a time of loneliness for many.”
Sec. Crouch went on to say that, according to a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, from August 2020 to February 2021 the estimated percentage of adults with recent symptoms of anxiety or depression increased from 36.4% to 41.5%.

Additionally, the percentage of those reporting on unmet mental health care needs also increased from 9.2% to 11.7%.

“If you are experiencing acute stress that gets in the way of daily life for several days, talk to your health care provider,” Sec. Crouch said. “Additionally, mental health in childhood means reaching developmental and emotional milestones and learning healthy social skills and how to cope when there are problems. This week is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and Governor Justice has proclaimed today, May 7, as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.”

West Virginians can call or text 1-877-HELP-304 (1-877-435-7304) or chat online at to receive free help from trained crisis counselors who can listen to concerns, help sort out emotions, and provide connections to community resources.
Gov. Justice announced Friday that the State of West Virginia has now administered 1,311,329 vaccine doses out of a total allotment of 1,561,480 doses from the federal government; an overall administration rate of 84.0%.

West Virginia COVID-19 Dashboard (Click “Vaccine Summary” tab)
Factoring in federal partnerships and other vaccination programs, more than 1.43 million vaccine doses have been administered to West Virginians to date.

Out of 1,474,615 eligible West Virginians, 796,765 (54.0%) have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 663,080 (45.0%) have been fully vaccinated.

Out of the 367,011 West Virginians ages 65 and older, 292,341 (79.7%) have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 259,948 (70.8%) have been fully vaccinated.
Vaccinations are now available to all West Virginians age 16 and older.

During his COVID-19 briefing on Monday this week, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia is implementing several new ideas to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible than ever, as part of comprehensive efforts to increase vaccination rates across the state.

The Governor also reiterated his recent announcements that West Virginia is now offering a $100 incentive to all residents ages 16-35 to encourage younger West Virginians to get vaccinated and that free COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be held at all West Virginia State Parks and State Forests between now and Memorial Day.

All West Virginians interested in being vaccinated are urged to visit or call 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.
Gov. Justice reported Friday that the current number of active cases in the state is now 7,075, down from 7,199 as of his previous COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.

There have been 339 new positive cases and six deaths reported over the past 24 hours.

The number of active hospitalizations in West Virginia is now 241, up from 236 on Wednesday. Of those currently hospitalized, 79 are in the ICU, down from 91 on Wednesday.

The cumulative percent of positive cases is now 5.14%, down from 5.15% on Wednesday.

Click here to view the latest COVID-19 data
Also on Friday, 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: 12
Gold counties: 8
Yellow counties: 7
Green counties: 26
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now nine active church-related outbreaks in West Virginia, up from eight such outbreaks as of his previous COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday. The active outbreaks are located in Berkeley, Grant, Greenbrier, Hardy, Jackson, Nicholas, and Ritchie counties and account for a total of 80 cases.

There remain 16 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state.

The Governor also reported that there are now just four inmate cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) system, down 87.5% from the 32 inmate cases as of Wednesday. Meanwhile, there are now 12 active staff cases across the DCR system, up from 11 on Wednesday. To view the latest DCR case update, click here.
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice provided an overview of the 50 counties across the state that currently 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 or 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 Friday, Gov. Justice provided a reminder that his Statewide Indoor Face Covering Requirement remains in effect.

All West Virginians age 9 and older must 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 requirement does not apply to anyone who has trouble breathing or is otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance, anyone who is at a restaurant and actively consuming food or drink, anyone alone in a closed or physically distanced room, or anyone actively engaged in physical activity indoors.

READ MORE: Statewide Indoor Face Covering Requirement

All businesses and organizations that invite the public into their facilities must post adequate signage advising guests of the face covering requirement and are responsible for enforcing the requirement to ensure it is being followed.

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.
Once again Friday, Gov. Justice 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
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