COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice, WV National Guard report hundreds of Soldiers being trained to support hospital staff across state


Free at-home COVID-19 tests now available at
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.
During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice was joined by West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, who announced that hundreds of Guard Soldiers either have already been or will be training to provide staffing support to hospitals throughout the state.

Last week, Gov. Justice directed his Joint Interagency Task Force and his COVID-19 pandemic leadership team to immediately begin reviewing and approving requests from West Virginia hospitals for staffing support, which is being provided by the Guard.

“Our National Guard is doing all kinds of great work backing up our hospitals to make sure that they are fully operational,” Gov. Justice said. “We commend them for all they’re doing to support our pandemic response every day.”
“At the Governor’s direction, we quickly established a plan to support our West Virginia health care systems by augmenting them with service members from the National Guard, providing much-needed assistance for frontline workers in our hospitals,” Crane said. “We’ve been working with the JIATF and the Health Care Association to make sure we’re meeting all needs at this time.”

To date, the WVNG has received requests for support from 15 hospitals across the state.
Today, the WVNG began providing support at Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) with 25 Guardsmen and women.

“We have about 180 other folks going to Camp Dawson – they’re already moving to get ahead of the weather – and we will have them trained up by the 23rd of January,” Crane continued. “Once we have them trained up, we will be able to meet the needs of all the hospitals that have requested help so far.

“At the Governor’s direction, we will continue to train additional folks, getting up to 350 service members trained up for this mission as we continue to do additional missions as well, such as delivering vaccinations and personal protective equipment, administering tests and vaccinations, and supporting our local health departments.”
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that the federal government is now offering every household in America four free at-home COVID-19 tests.

To get your free at-home COVID tests, visit
The CDC and FDA have authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 booster for use in children ages 12 to 15, meaning that booster shots are now authorized for all West Virginians ages 12 and older.

The CDC and FDA have also shortened the waiting period to get the Pfizer booster from six months after receiving the initial series of shots to five months.

The FDA has approved and is encouraging booster doses for all Americans over 12 years old.

Read more about booster eligibility at

COVID-19 booster shots are available, for free, to all eligible West Virginians.

West Virginians can go to any location offering COVID-19 vaccines with their vaccination card to receive their booster. If your card has been lost, you can request a new one from the DHHR.

Initial series vaccinations are available, for free, for everyone ages 5 and older.

West Virginians interested in being vaccinated or having their children vaccinated are encouraged to visit or call the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965.
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now 15,906 active cases of COVID-19 and 915 COVID-related hospitalizations statewide.

The cumulative percent positivity rate stands at 7.40%.

COVID-19 Dashboard |

Also on Wednesday, DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch joined the briefing to explain that the County Alert System map is once again live on the West Virginia COVID-19 Dashboard after adjustments were made to map thresholds to align with the CDC’s latest guidelines.

An updated breakdown of the West Virginia County Alert Map is as follows:
Red (35) | Orange (11) Gold (7) | Yellow (1) | Green (1)
Gov. Justice also reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are currently 27 school outbreaks in 16 counties.

COVID-19 Outbreaks in State Public Schools (WVDE)
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to thank West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Director Steve McDaniel for his service to the state.

McDaniel, who was appointed to the position by Gov. Justice in January 2017, will retire from state government at the end of the month and transition to a role as an advisor to the WVDNR.

“Steve McDaniel shares the same love for the outdoors as I have my whole life,” Gov. Justice said. “He came into this position wanting to really do something to help his state, and what he’s done at the DNR will absolutely be remembered for decades, if not centuries to come.”

Over the past five years, more than $151 million has been invested in West Virginia state parks and forests for much needed repairs and significant improvement projects, vastly increasing their appeal as desirable tourism and vacation destinations. West Virginia has also expanded its state-owned hunting lands by an additional 85,896 acres and has improved its fish stocking methods to allow hunters and anglers from around the world more opportunities to enjoy the state’s unmatched wildlife opportunities. As a result of these and other improvements, hunting and fishing license revenue is at its highest point in more than 20 years, and state park revenue is now 52% higher than it was in 2017.

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“He wants to spend more time with his family, and it’s very deserved. But we don’t want him to run off too far,” Gov. Justice continued. “So we’re going to keep him on in a role as an advisor, and we celebrate that he will still be a part of our team, even though we’ll miss him as director. I thank him from the bottom of my heart.”
Gov. Justice also took time Wednesday to celebrate Tourism Day at the West Virginia State Capitol.

“When I walked in the door as your Governor, I said we’ve got to diversify, and one of the most significant areas we could diversify in was tourism,” Gov. Justice said. “We needed to tell our story and be proud to show our state off to the outside world. And we’ve done exactly that.

“Just think about these numbers: $611 million – over half a billion dollars – we have grown in traveler spending in West Virginia since we walked in the door,” Gov. Justice continued. “Every travel guide in the world is saying West Virginia is the place people want to come to; West Virginia is the best destination.

“We put our money where our mouth is. We put funds into tourism and we started promoting us. We knew how good we were. But then we started telling the world. And before you know it, they saw the beauty. It doesn’t take long. It’s really contagious. So I congratulate all the folks that are involved in tourism all across the state. We are knocking it out of the park beyond anyone’s imagination, and there’s even more we can do. It is astronomical the growth we can have in West Virginia.”
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