COVID-19 UPDATE: U.S. Secretary of Education applauds Gov. Justice, West Virginia for providing school vaccination clinics in all 55 counties


Sec. Miguel Cardona: “Not only did you accept the call to action, you really elevated it...What you’re doing shows strong leadership.”
CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice and members of the West Virginia COVID-19 pandemic response leadership team held another news briefing today to update the public on the State’s latest pandemic response efforts.
On Friday, Gov. Justice welcomed United States Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona onto his virtual COVID-19 briefing, as he and West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch announced that back-to-school vaccination clinics will be held this fall in all 55 counties.
“I am totally committed to doing back-to-school vaccinations for those 12 and older,” Gov. Justice said. “And if and when the vaccines are recommended for those under 12, we will absolutely be ready to move quickly.”

During the briefing, Sec. Cardona praised Gov. Justice, Superintendent Burch, and West Virginia education leaders for answering the call to get more children vaccinated by providing these school clinics.

“Not only did you accept the call to action, you really elevated it,” Sec. Cardona said.
Click here to watch Sec. Cardona's full remarks
“When we say we’re going to increase our vaccination numbers, what we’re saying is we’re going to do our very best to make sure that students can get on the field, that they can have in-person learning, that they can enjoy those experiences that we all know are so important for school success. So, Governor Justice, thank you for your leadership, and Superintendent Burch, thank you. This is a tough time to be a leader. But you know what? It’s an important time.

“What you’re doing shows strong leadership,” Sec. Cardona added.

In his remarks, Superintendent Burch explained that each county school system will pick one or more “central locations”  to host these back-to-school clinics. Locations may include local high schools, middle schools, or any other school facilities – like football stadiums on game nights – where the clinics will have the biggest impact.

“Sometimes we’ll see them actually move the clinic locations around,” Superintendent Burch said. “I also want to clarify that these clinics are not only for students. Our school systems are opening many of these clinics up to the entire community so that when they’re able to do these clinics, even in the football games or any type of evening events, they want to make sure they capture as many of the community members as possible.”
Superintendent Burch also announced that the West Virginia Department of Education’s #IGotVaxxedWV campaign, which was launched this summer to encourage students to get vaccinated, has been rebranded as: #IGotVaxxed To Get Back.

“Listening to the students and teachers out there, ‘I Got Vaxxed To Get Back’ is really highlighting that need that students want for consistency,” Superintendent Burch said. “So when students talk about it, they’re talking about, ‘I got vaxxed to get back to proms and homecomings and football games.’”

The WVDE recently launched their “I Got Vaxxed Competition” to reward schools that have supported vaccinations among students and staff.

WIth Gov. Justice’s support, a total of 12 schools – four elementary schools, four middle schools, and four high schools – with the largest percentage of eligible vaccinated staff and students will each win $50,000 to use for their prom, fun fair, pep rally, or any student-based activity. The competition, which runs through the first week of October, is voluntary and is open to both public and private schools.

Click here to read more about the “#IGotVaxxed To Get Back” campaign and competition

Superintendent Burch added that the WVDE has launched a new “County Recovery Snapshots” webpage, which provides a comprehensive overview of the demographic information, student enrollment, pandemic funding, and mitigation plans for each district.

Sec. Cardona also took time to praise Gov. Justice’s “Do it for Babydog” campaign and encouraged all vaccine-eligible students and residents to follow the Governor’s advice in regard to getting vaccinated.

“If you're not doing it to get the numbers up or to win money for your school, ‘Do it for Babydog,’” Sec. Cardona said.

Moments later, Gov. Justice brought Babydog onto the briefing for a cameo appearance and to thank Sec. Cardona for his participation in the briefing.
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice reported another large jump in COVID-19-related hospitalizations across the state, with 579 West Virginians now hospitalized; up from 511 as of the Governor’s previous briefing two days ago.

“We know that our hospitals are starting to fill up very rapidly,” State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh said. “We've seen about a 13-fold increase in the numbers of people in hospitals, in ICU beds, and on ventilators.”

Of the patients currently hospitalized, 181 are in the ICU and 82 are on ventilators. Both of these numbers continue to rapidly approach the all-time records in West Virginia.

“Nationally, we have seen that the overwhelming majority of people hospitalized with COVID are not vaccinated,” Gov. Justice said. “West Virginia is experiencing the exact same thing.”
At WVU Medicine’s hospitals in the northern part of the state, 85% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

At Mon Health Medical Center in Morgantown, 92% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

At CAMC’s hospitals in the greater Charleston area, almost 80% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. In ICUs, that number rises to 93%.

At Thomas Health’s hospitals, over 90% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. In ICUs, that number rises to 100%.

“You've got to be able to see. Everything points towards one thing and that is you have to get vaccinated,” Gov. Justice said. “The more that are vaccinated, the less that will die.”

On Monday, the U.S. FDA officially gave its full stamp of approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

All West Virginians interested in being vaccinated are encouraged 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.
Gov. Justice reported that 4,300 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the past two days alone.

“It sounds great,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve surely saved some lives. But is it enough? No. It’s not enough. We have got to get more people vaccinated right now, especially our kids.”

The total number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia has now reached 13,766; an increase of more than 2,000 cases in just the past two days and the state’s highest number of active cases in nearly seven months.

The County Alert System map now shows that 53 of the state’s 55 counties are either in the Red or Orange categories. A total of 35 counties are currently Red and 18 are Orange.
Gov. Justice once again echoed his announcement from earlier in the week that he has directed State pandemic response officials to continue their push to expedite approval from the federal government to allow West Virginia to begin administering an extra dose of the COVID-19 vaccines to the state’s most vulnerable citizens, including residents at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, who were among the first people in the nation to be vaccinated.

“We do not have that go-ahead yet. We are working it as hard as I know how you can work it,” Gov. Justice said. “From the standpoint of our National Guard, the health departments, the local pharmacies, the healthcare facilities, we’re as ready as ready could be.

“West Virginia came right out of the blocks and led the nation, and by leading the nation we had people vaccinated early, so we ought to be able to give our booster shots early,” Gov. Justice continued. “Dr. Marsh and Gen. Hoyer have talked with the White House this week. They’re pushing every button they can possibly push.”
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice announced that several local health departments have reported that they are receiving death threats over mask mandates in schools. 

“This is an absolute shame,” Gov. Justice said. “Surely to God above, we’ll stop threatening the very men and women who’ve worked so hard to save our lives.”

“Can you imagine local health departments receiving death threats?” Gov. Justice continued. “Death threats to the very people that ran to the fire, saved our lives in every way, that were courageous beyond belief. They aren’t even the ones responsible for mandating masks in the schools. We’ve left that up to the local boards of education because we feel like they have more knowledge of their areas. The health departments don’t have anything to do with it.”
On Friday, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that online registration is now open for the second round of the “Do it for Babydog: Save a life, Change your life” vaccination sweepstakes.

All West Virginians who have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can register at for an opportunity to join the list of winners.

Those who previously registered for the original vaccination sweepstakes are required to register again to be eligible for Round 2.
Each week, five vaccinated West Virginia students ages 12-25 will win a full four-year scholarship to any public college or university in the state; including room and board, tuition, and books.

Additional weekly prizes for vaccinated West Virginians ages 18+ include:
  • Luxury high-end sports car
  • Custom fishing or pontoon boat
  • $150,000 toward the wedding of your dreams
  • Free gas for 10 years
  • WVU football or basketball season ticket package for two
  • Marshall football or basketball season ticket package for two
  • 2021-2022 season passes for two to a ski resort in West Virginia
  • Premium ATV or side-by-side
  • Top-of-the-line zero turn lawn mower
Registration for the first prize drawing of “Do it for Babydog: Round 2” will remain open until Sunday, Aug. 29, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Winners will be announced next Thursday, Sept. 2.

Prize drawings will be held weekly, with winners being announced each Thursday through Oct. 7.
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are now 20 active outbreaks within the state public school system.

Click to view: COVID-19 Outbreaks in State Public Schools (WVDE)

There are now six active outbreaks associated with churches throughout West Virginia. The churches are located in Barbour, Doddridge, Kanawha, Mason, Taylor, and Wayne counties.

Additionally, there are 40 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state.

Meanwhile, there are 62 active inmate cases and 45 active staff cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation system. To view the latest DCR case update, click here.
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks about COVID-19 to announce that he has issued a proclamation ordering that all United States and West Virginia flags on all State-owned facilities throughout all of West Virginia be displayed at half-staff until sunset on Monday, August 30, 2021, to honor and pay our respects to the U.S. service members and other victims killed in the terrorist attack yesterday in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Click here to view proclamation

“We had a terrible situation that happened in Afghanistan,” Gov. Justice said. “We lost many, many, many of our service members – 13 brave heroes – and many are injured, or in the hospital, and are in really tough shape.

“Please, please, all of us joined together in prayer for them in every way possible.”
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