COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice praises West Virginia Board of Education for calling grades Pre-K-8 back to in-person instruction full-time

2/24/2021

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.

WEST VIRGINIA BOARD OF EDUCATION PASSES MOTION CALLING GRADES PRE-K-8 BACK TO IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION FULL-TIME
During today’s briefing, Gov. Justice commended the West Virginia Board of Education for passing a motion in their meeting yesterday, requiring grades Pre-K-8 to return to full, five-day instruction statewide.

“I think that is wonderful,” Gov. Justice said. “I absolutely believe, with all in us, that we ought to be back in school full-time. Our kids need it so badly, but our families need it as well.”

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This move replaces the Jan. 13 motion that required counties to offer at least blended learning for families.

This does not affect families that have chosen virtual learning for their children. Those children may remain with virtual learning.

As a part of the meeting, the board recommended high schools return to five days of in-person instruction as well. However, because older students may transmit the virus at rates similar to adults, grades 9-12 may remain with blended instruction if the infection rate in the community is high.

According to the motion, counties are to return to the five-day, in-person model for Pre-K-8 students no later than March 3, 2021.

Click here to read more

WEST VIRGINIA READY FOR POTENTIAL AUTHORIZATION OF JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINE
After the U.S. FDA released an analysis of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine this morning that supports its authorization for emergency use, and with a panel set to meet Friday to evaluate the vaccine and make a recommendation about whether it should be given authorization, Gov. Justice today announced that West Virginia is ready for this vaccine when it becomes available.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one shot, unlike the two-shot dosing for the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna and it does not require special refrigeration for shipment and storage.

State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh also provided his insight on the potential authorization of this new vaccine.

“This vaccine looks like it is very safe, and it looks like it’s very, very effective – particularly at reducing severe complications, which include people being hospitalized, people going to the ICU, people going on a ventilator, and also deaths,” Dr. Marsh said. “There have been no severe complications after the 28-day window and beyond, or any deaths, in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine groups, which span people of many ages and also cover people from many countries. So that’s good news.

“Given the benefit of saving lives and reducing complications, we hope that the wisdom of the FDA and the CDC will allow us to add this to our current strategy, focusing, as the Governor says, on the elderly part of our population – the vulnerable part of our population,” Dr. Marsh continued. “We believe this strategy is working but, as the Governor also says, it’s not time to become complacent.”

VACCINE DISTRIBUTION UPDATE: STATE VACCINATION RATE WOULD RANK SEVENTH IN THE WORLD IF WEST VIRGINIA WERE ITS OWN COUNTRY
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that West Virginia remains among the national leaders in the rate of COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 9.9 percent of West Virginia's entire population has received both doses of the vaccines; a rate so high that, if West Virginia were its own country, it would rank as the 7th-best rate of any nation in the world.

“That’s not too bad for little old West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “Hats off to all the local health departments, all our community health partners that have been phenomenal, the DHHR, our National Guard – all our people involved – you’ve done a whale of a job. I don’t know how in the world it could possibly be any better.”
West Virginia has successfully administered 443,223 doses after receiving a total allotment of 456,140 doses from the federal government to date; an overall administration rate of 97.2%.

West Virginia COVID-19 Dashboard (Click “Vaccine Summary” tab)
West Virginia boasts a first dose administration rate of 102.7%, which exceeds 100% due to extra doses being extracted from vials of the vaccine, and a second dose administration rate of 89.4%.
  • First doses: 273,391 administered / 266,200 allotted
  • Second doses: 169,832 administered / 189,940 allotted
The Governor also offered a reminder that free COVID-19 vaccination clinics either have been or will be held in all 55 counties across West Virginia by the end of this week through operation “Save Our Wisdom.”

The clinics are currently available for West Virginians who are 65 years of age and older. To date, 152,096 West Virginians age 65 and older have chosen to be vaccinated, including 79,268 who are now fully vaccinated.
Each clinic location has its own, unique schedule. Names are being pulled from the West Virginia COVID-19 Vaccine Registration System to fill out appointments after waitlists are exhausted. All clinics require appointments and walk-ins will not be accepted.

West Virginia was the first state in the nation to put a statewide vaccination pre-registration system in place. The new digital tool allows West Virginians to add themselves to a list of people who are interested in being vaccinated, and will notify those who sign up about the availability of vaccine doses to help streamline vaccination efforts.

To date, more than 287,000 West Virginians have signed up to be added to the pre-registration list.

All West Virginians over the age of 16 are encouraged to pre-register at vaccinate.wv.gov.
Vaccine supplies are limited, so pre-registration does not mean immediate access to vaccination. Pre-registration offers West Virginians the opportunity to receive real-time updates on vaccine availability and schedule an appointment when available as vaccine supplies allow. The vaccine registration system allows people to select their preferences for communication through text, email, or voicemail over regular phone lines.

West Virginians who need assistance with registration for any reason should call the COVID-19 Vaccine Info Line for help at 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.

The Governor went on to say that increased emphasis on pre-registrations is needed in a handful of counties across the state, including Berkeley, Jackson, Jefferson, Mason, Mercer, Mineral, Mingo, Monongalia, Morgan, and Wayne counties. The Governor urged West Virginians in these counties with friends and family age 65 and older to help these individuals get pre-registered.

GOV. JUSTICE ANNOUNCES SECOND VIRTUAL TOWN HALL ON PLAN TO REPEAL STATE INCOME TAX TO TAKE PLACE WEDNESDAY AT 7 P.M.
Also today, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks about COVID-19 to announce that, at 7:00 p.m. this evening, he will be holding his second virtual town hall on his Personal Income Tax Repeal Proposal to answer West Virginians’ questions about the plan.

“My plan will give us opportunity beyond belief,” Gov. Justice said. “Opportunity like you can't imagine; opportunity to raise wages, to drive jobs here like crazy, to raise your property values, and to absolutely give you a standard of life that is what so many states have that we’ve wanted for a long, long time. I want to achieve that with a net positive for all West Virginians.”
“Without any question, hands down, this is the most important economic thing that has come down the pike that West Virginia is able to do, ever,” Gov. Justice continued. “Everybody in the nation, and the world, is looking at West Virginia. Now is our time. So I encourage all West Virginians to submit your questions and watch our town hall tonight.”
CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A QUESTION
All West Virginians are encouraged to watch the live stream of the virtual town hall on the Governor’s social media accounts:
YouTube | Twitter | Facebook

You can also submit a question and watch the live stream of the virtual town hall on the Governor’s website.

COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS UPDATE
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that the current number of active cases in the state is now 8,067, down from 8,795 as of his previous COVID-19 briefing on Monday.

The number of daily active cases in West Virginia has now decreased for 39 straight days.

The number of active hospitalizations is now 292, down from 294 as of Monday. Of those currently hospitalized, 74 patients are in the ICU, down from 80 such patients as of Monday.

The cumulative percent of positive cases has decreased to 5.49%, down from 5.51% as of Monday.

Click here to view the latest COVID-19 data

WEDNESDAY MAP UPDATE
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: 0
Orange counties: 7
Gold counties: 12
Yellow counties: 15
Green counties: 21

OUTBREAK REPORT
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that there now remains just one church-related outbreak in West Virginia. This outbreak is in Webster County and accounts for a total of just five cases.

There are now 14 outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state, down from 19 such outbreaks as of the Governor’s previous briefing on Monday.

The Governor also reported that there are now 22 cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) system, up from six as of Monday. Meanwhile, there are now 10 active staff cases across the DCR system, down from 11 as of Monday. To view the latest DCR case update, click here.

AGGRESSIVE TESTING CONTINUES ACROSS STATE
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice provided an overview of the 51 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

HATFIELD-MCCOY TRAILS ACHIEVE RECORD-BREAKING PERMIT SALES IN 2020 DESPITE PANDEMIC
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice congratulated officials with the Hatfield-McCoy Trails in southern West Virginia for achieving another year of record-breaking permit sales for the Hatfield-McCoy Trails in 2020, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System sold nearly 65,000 trail permits, which represents the highest number of annual permits ever sold, and the system’s 20th consecutive year of growth in ridership. Despite an eight-week closure due the COVID-19 pandemic, permit sales still saw a 15% lift over 2019 sales.

“West Virginia is an industry leader in outdoor recreation, and our beloved Hatfield-McCoy Trail System is a gem unlike any other,” Gov. Justice said.

The Hatfield-McCoy Trail System welcomed more than 8,500 new riders to the trail system in 2020. More than 80% of total sales were to non-West Virginia residents with both resident and non-resident ridership growing for the year.

“Since I’ve been in office, I’ve had the privilege of seeing this trail system expand to include more miles of trails and welcome new tourism businesses to support this increase in ridership,” Gov. Justice said. “Keep doing what you’re doing, because it’s working. I couldn’t be more proud.”

The Hatfield-McCoy Trail System will be adding two more trail systems in two more counties to its already successful trail network on March 1, 2021, when the Ivy Branch and Cabwaylingo trail systems open in Lincoln and Wayne counties. These new systems will push the trails to nearly 900 miles of off-road adventure riding for ATVs, UTVs, ORVs, and off-road motorcycles.

The Hatfield-McCoy Trail System is one of the largest off-road vehicle trail systems in the world. Open 365 days a year, the trail system is a four-season travel and tourism destination that connects ATV-friendly towns across the southern coalfields.

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GOV. JUSTICE CONGRATULATES WEST VIRGINIA POWER ON RETURN TO PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to congratulate the City of Charleston and baseball fans across West Virginia after today’s announcement that the West Virginia Power have joined Atlantic League Professional Baseball and have merged ownership with the Lexington Legends ballclub.

The Atlantic League offers an open classification of play; the highest level of professional baseball other than Major League Baseball.

“You’re going to be able to see some of the best players in the world, right here in Charleston, with nearly half of Atlantic League players having already spent time in the Major Leagues,” Gov. Justice said. “This is an absolute home run for Charleston. I could not be more proud.

“I’ve been on the phone with Major League Baseball and Commissioner Rob Manfred, we’ve worked on this nonstop over the past year or so,” Gov. Justice continued. “I told him how much baseball meant to West Virginia. He got it. He assured me that professional baseball would be played in Charleston in 2021, and now it’s official. I thank him with all in me, and I’m excited to hear that crack of the bat in Charleston again.”

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
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 Coronavirus.wv.gov.


Contact Information

Jordan Damron, jordan.l.damron@wv.gov

Contact

Office of the Governor
State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E
Charleston, WV 25305

Office Phone:
304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

Governor's Mansion:
304.558.3588

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