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.
GOV. JUSTICE URGES VACCINATIONS & BOOSTERS AS OMICRON VARIANT SPREADS
With the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continuing to spread across the state and the country, Gov. Justice once again Friday urged all West Virginians to get vaccinated or get their booster shot as soon as possible.
“I’ll never understand the logic of those who made the decision to get the full first round of their vaccination, but then haven’t gotten the booster. If it’s been long enough, you’re basically walking around as if you had never been vaccinated at all,” Gov. Justice said. “What in the world are you waiting on?”
“Getting vaccinated or getting boosted stacks the deck to keep you out of the hospital – I’m living proof,” added Gov. Justice, referencing his recovery after a recent bout with COVID-19. “With how fast this thing is running now, if you don’t get your booster because you just don’t feel like it, you’re making a real mistake.”
The Governor went on to report that there are now 16,742 active cases of COVID-19 and 952 COVID-related hospitalizations statewide. Today’s West Virginia County Alert Map features 54 of the state’s 55 counties in either the Red or Orange categories – denoting the highest level of spread.
COVID-19 Dashboard | Coronavirus.wv.gov
“Our map, for all practical purposes, is completely Red and Orange. I can’t recall seeing it any worse than that,” Gov. Justice said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at that map and say, ‘If I’m not boosted, I need to go get my booster shot.’ Because it doesn’t look good.”
Booster shots are now authorized and encouraged for all West Virginians ages 12 and older.
Read more about booster eligibility at CDC.gov.
COVID-19 booster shots are available, for free, to all eligible West Virginians. The waiting period for those who received initial series Pfizer shots has been shortened to five months.
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 Vaccinate.wv.gov or call the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965.
GET FREE AT-HOME COVID-19 TESTS
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice offered a reminder to all West Virginians that the federal government is now offering every household in America four free at-home COVID-19 tests.
“Please take advantage of this opportunity to get yourself some free tests for your home and use them if you or your family feel sick,” Gov. Justice said. “The more we test, the more we know. And the more we know, the better we can react.”
To get your free at-home COVID tests, visit COVIDtests.gov.
WEST VIRGINIA NATIONAL GUARD HOSPITAL SUPPORT
Additionally, Gov. Justice provided another update on the West Virginia National Guard’s mission to provide staffing support to hospitals throughout the state.
As of Friday morning, 121 Guard members have been authorized to deploy to 16 facilities across West Virginia.
“Our National Guard has stepped up and they have absolutely been assisting in our understaffed hospitals and helping us every day,” Gov. Justice said. “We thank these men and women for all they do for our great state.”
WVNG CHALLENGE ACADEMY GRADUATE BECOMES FIRST APPOINTED TO WEST POINT
Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to announce that a West Virginia National Guard Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy graduate has made history by becoming the first cadet to receive an appointment to the U.S. Army’s Military Service Academy, West Point, as a part of the Class of 2026.
“This is absolutely amazing,” Gov. Justice said. “This young man will embark on a journey like you can’t imagine.”
William Farkas, a 17-year-old recent enlistee in the West Virginia Guard and Tunnelton native, will embark on a journey to become an officer in the United States Army beginning this month, when he departs for basic training.
Farkas was a standout cadet during his time at the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy-South in Montgomery; the state’s second ChalleNGe Academy location for at-risk youth. He earned several awards, including the Robert C. Byrd Distinguished Cadet Award and Adjutant General’s Award for Academic Excellence.
“William, congratulations to you from all West Virginians on this incredible accomplishment,” Gov. Justice added. “And, again, I thank the National Guard in every way. You have absolutely changed lives with this program. It is amazing what you’ve done.”
GOV. JUSTICE: WV BREAKS ALL-TIME STATE UNEMPLOYMENT RECORD FOR 3RD STRAIGHT MONTH
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice took time to echo his announcement yesterday that West Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 3.7% for December 2021; breaking the all-time record for the lowest unemployment rate recorded in state history for the 3rd consecutive month.
“To set the record not once, but three months in a row is amazing,” Gov. Justice said. “West Virginians are getting back to work.”
West Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has now decreased for 20 straight months and has been lower than the national unemployment rate for 10 straight months.
“Not only is our unemployment rate getting better, our revenue numbers are going up, and more people are visiting West Virginia and deciding to make it their home,” Gov. Justice continued. “We have all pulled the rope together. Let’s just keep at it.”
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GOVERNOR ENCOURAGES WEST VIRGINIANS TO TUNE IN FOR HIS STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS THURSDAY, JAN. 27
Finally, Gov. Justice took time to announce that he will deliver his sixth State of the State address on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, at 7 p.m.
This address will supplement the Governor’s written State of the State message, which was delivered to the West Virginia Legislature on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, to formally satisfy his constitutional requirement to give to the Legislature information by message of the condition of the state at the commencement of the legislative session. The prior night, Gov. Justice announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and would have no choice but to postpone his traditional in-person address to a later date.
“We actually made history because it was the first instance, in modern times, that a governor has submitted a letter as his State of the State,” Gov. Justice said. “But it certainly wasn’t by choice. I wanted to be there so bad, it was unbelievable. Can you imagine the odds of that happening the day before the State of the State?
“So this year has been a bit modified, but I do feel an obligation to come in and deliver that message because the State of West Virginia is really cooking,” Gov. Justice continued. “We are doing great and there are so many people that need to be thanked. And I also want to tell you about all the ways we’re going to make West Virginia even better.
“I promised you a rocket ship ride. Well, the rocket is on the move right now. It’s really fun, and things are just going to get better and better.”
The address will be broadcast live on the West Virginia Public Broadcasting Channel. Find your television station here (Use column labeled “WVPB”).
Audio from the address will be broadcast live on West Virginia Public Radio. Find your radio station here.
The address will also be livestreamed on the Governor’s social media channels:
YouTube | Facebook | Twitter