COVID-19 UPDATE: With cases still surging, Gov. Justice urges vaccinations: “We do not have people running to the fire like they should right now”


More prize winners from final round of “Do it for Babydog” Vaccination Sweepstakes introduced
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.
With cases of COVID-19 continuing to spike, Gov. Justice continued his urgent calls for more West Virginians to get vaccinated.

“We’ve vaccinated 1,700 folks since Monday. While that’s good in a lot of ways, it’s not enough; it’s nowhere close to enough,” Gov. Justice said.

“We do not have people running to the fire like they should right now.”
During his remarks, Gov. Justice discussed a CNN web story published Wednesday morning that reads:
“More than 98% of US residents now live in an area where there is a ‘high’ or ‘substantial’ risk of Covid-19 community transmission, up from 19% of residents only a month ago. This sharp turn has been driven in large part by the highly infectious Delta variant and low vaccination rates in many regions.”
-Priya Krishnakumar, CNN
The story features a map that uses CDC data to illustrate transmission rates for each county across America.
The map is covered in large swaths of red – indicating high community transmission rates across much of the country – and features many more high risk areas than the same map from just one month ago.

“It’s plain to see this Delta variant is here,” Gov. Justice said. “I urge and urge everyone to move and get vaccinated. The vaccines are tremendously effective against this variant.”

Gov. Justice went on to report that there are now 161 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant that have been identified in 35 counties across the state.
To view COVID-19 variant data:
  • Go to the WV COVID-19 Dashboard at
  • Make sure the “Overview” tab is selected
  • Click yellow box reading: “Click here to view variant data”
The total number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia has now reached 4,625. In the two days since the Governor’s previous briefing, over 600 new cases have been identified.

The current case total is also more than five times higher than the number of cases just one month ago.

Hospitalizations also continue to increase statewide.

There are currently 275 active hospitalizations in West Virginia, up 58 since the Governor’s previous briefing on Monday. Of those patients, 114 are in the ICU, up 44 since the Governor’s previous briefing.

Of the individuals currently hospitalized, 41.5% are in the ICU and 16% are on ventilators.
Gov. Justice also recapped his journey across the state yesterday to surprise the winners of the four biggest prizes given away in the 7th and final round of the “Do it or Babydog: Save a life, Change your life” Vaccination Sweepstakes.

“We had our last go-around and we had a lot of exciting stuff happen yesterday,” Gov. Justice said. “It was just a great day.”
Wally Board, who helps run his family’s realty business in his hometown of Spencer in Roane County, received a life-changing visit from Gov. Justice and Babydog yesterday. The Governor announced that Board had won the sweepstakes’ grand prize of $1,588,000.
Kara Waldeck, a pharmacy worker from Charles Town who herself has administered doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, also experienced a life-changing surprise yesterday when the Governor and Babydog presented her with the runner-up prize of $588,000.
The Governor and Babydog also surprised Paul Swartz, a registered dietitian at Jackie Withrow Hospital in Beckley (below left), and Megan Landsberg, an adjunct professor of music at Marietta College in Ohio who lives in Vienna, West Virginia (below right), presenting each of them with a brand-new, custom-outfitted truck.
A total of 51 West Virginians were announced as prize winners yesterday. Additional prizes included two full four-year scholarships to any public institution in the state, five lifetime hunting licenses, five lifetime fishing licenses, five custom hunting rifles, five custom hunting shotguns, and 25 weekend getaways to West Virginia State Parks.
During today’s briefing, Gov. Justice was joined by Ashley Goots of Bridgeport; one of this week’s two college scholarship prize winners through the sweepstakes.
“Ashley, thanks so much for getting vaccinated, first and foremost, and registering,” Gov. Justice said. “Way to go. We are really proud of you. Keep up the great work and congratulations again.”

The Governor also offered his congratulations to this week’s other college scholarship prize winner; Cheylan Cummings from the city of Gary, WV, in McDowell County.

A final tally of 351 prizes were awarded through the sweepstakes, including:
  • 8 cash prizes totaling over $8.1 million
  • 14 custom-outfitted trucks
  • 14 full ride college scholarships
  • 35 lifetime hunting licenses
  • 35 lifetime fishing licenses
  • 35 custom hunting rifles
  • 35 custom hunting shotguns
  • 175 weekend getaways to West Virginia State Parks
More than 385,000 West Virginians registered for the sweepstakes in total. 

Before Gov. Justice announced the “Do it for Babydog” sweepstakes, vaccination rates in West Virginia were slowing down, with just under 900,000 residents having received at least one dose. After the Governor announced the program, however, a steady increase in the number of vaccinated residents resumed.

To date, 1,078,209 West Virginians have received at least one dose of the vaccine; approximately 180,000 more than had been vaccinated before Gov. Justice launched the sweepstakes.

Although the sweepstakes has concluded, free COVID-19 vaccinations remain available to all West Virginians ages 12 and older.

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.
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now 13 active outbreaks associated with churches throughout West Virginia. The churches are located in Cabell, Fayette, Jackson, Jefferson, Marion, Mason, McDowell, Nicholas, Putnam, Raleigh, Taylor, and Wayne counties.

Additionally, there are 17 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state.

Meanwhile, there are 29 active inmate cases and 14 active staff cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation system. To view the latest DCR case update, click here.
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks about COVID-19 to relay an announcement today by WVU and Viatris that these two entities are going to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the aim of transferring the Mylan plant to WVU.

The Governor announced that if the MOU comes to fruition, WVU will work collaboratively with the West Virginia Department of Economic Development to find potential companies to use the space.

“This is a great, great announcement,” Gov. Justice said. “I want to thank Viatris for coming to the table and working with WVU on this. But we've still got a long way to go to turn this into real employment for the great employees who were doing such good work at the Mylan plant.

“These people were so good at their jobs and to just let them die on the vine is the wrong thing to do,” Gov. Justice continued. “At the end of the day, we want them to have high-paying, great jobs, and we're going to keep trying in every way we possibly can to pull that off.”
Gov. Justice also took time Wednesday to offer his condolences following the deaths of two men who worked in the mining industry; one today and another earlier this week.

Timothy Keith Collins, 53, of Mill Creek was fatally injured early this morning in Randolph County. Collins, who worked as an independent contract coal truck driver, was at his truck in a parking lot near the Carter Roag Coal Company’s Star Bridge Prep Plant when the incident occurred.

Another mining worker, 60-year-old Jeffrey Allen Hudnall, died this week following an accident last Wednesday, Aug. 4, at the Marfork Coal Company facility in Raleigh County.

The West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety, and Training is investigating both incidents.
Gov. Justice also asked all West Virginians to join him in prayer Wednesday on behalf of WCHS-TV reporter Gil McClanahan, who is currently hospitalized in Huntington with a non-COVID-19-related illness.

“He's having a tough time,” Gov. Justice said. “Gil has covered the news in West Virginia for over 30 years. He’s a good man with a beautiful wife, Connie, of 20 years. He’s a Putnam County resident and has given so much to West Virginia.

“So I ask all of you to reach out to Gil, his wife, his son Trevor, and his entire family in prayer,” Gov. Justice continued. “Gil, we want you to know that we're with you, and we're hoping and praying in every way for your speedy recovery.”
Gov. Justice also mentioned that, during his travels across the state yesterday to award “Do it for Babydog” sweepstakes prizes, he visited Roane General Hospital in Spencer.

Under the direction of administrator Doug Bentz, the hospital just completed a $30 million renovation and upgrade project, complete with a community fitness center and restaurant.
Gov. Justice announced that the National Council on Compensation Insurance, West Virginia’s rating and statistical agent, has filed a proposed workers’ compensation loss cost decrease of 7.9%, effective Nov. 1, 2021.

This premium reduction results in a projected $15 million in savings to West Virginia employers.

Since the workers’ compensation program was privatized in 2006, the market has experienced approximately $432 million in premium savings.

This latest filing represents the 17th consecutive year of loss cost decreases and accounts for a cumulative 79.9% reduction from pre-reform workers’ compensation levels.

Click here to read more
Gov. Justice also took time Wednesday to congratulate two West Virginians who have been nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as United States Prosecutors.

West Virginia Senator Bill Ihlenfeld has been nominated to serve as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, while Boone County Circuit Court Judge William Thompson has been nominated to serve as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia.

“I congratulate both of these men,” Gov. Justice said. “Both of these men will do a wonderful job and I urge the U.S. Senate to confirm them both.”
Additionally, Gov. Justice praised the U.S. Senate for passing a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal yesterday.

The vote was 69-30, with 19 Republicans joining Democrats in supporting the legislation. 

“Thank God we’ve got a vote that’s not just straight down party lines,” Gov. Justice said. “I congratulate Senator Manchin and Senator Capito. I know they’ve both worked hard on this. I thank them for their ‘yes’ votes. I hope the House votes to pass it too.”

If the Senate version passes, West Virginia would expect to receive $3.0 billion for federal-aid highway programs and $506 million for bridge replacement and repairs over five years.
Gov. Justice also took time to celebrate the grand opening yesterday of Marshall University’s Bill Noe Flight School at Yeager Airport in Charleston.

With a classroom building and a 12,000-square-foot hangar on site, the flight school is set to open for the upcoming fall semester beginning Monday, Aug. 23.

Students will be able to earn a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Commercial Pilot – Fixed Wing.

Two Marshall-branded Cirrus SR20 aircraft were purchased as part of the program.

“I congratulate the folks at Marshall. I thank President Gilbert, Bill Noe; the CEO of NetJets, Nick Keller; the Director of Yeager Airport, and I congratulate all the folks on the Kanawha County Commission,” Gov. Justice said.

Through Gov. Justice’s administration, the State is investing in West Virginia’s airports.

The Governor provided $400,000 in State matching funds for the construction of the new access road around the General Aviation area, opening up 25 acres of buildable land where the new flight school has been built. Gov. Justice attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the project one year ago.

“I really believe in investing in our airports. I think that they are the heart of the engine that drives our communities,” Gov. Justice added during Wednesday’s briefing. “Yeager Airport is a shining example of how investment turns the key to make all kinds of goodness happen. So we're going to keep doing more and more good things for our airports, because I know, in turn, they do so much good for all of us.”
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