COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice announces third round of P-EBT benefits to be allocated to eligible West Virginia students

2/25/2022

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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 and vaccine distribution efforts.
THIRD ROUND OF P-EBT BENEFITS TO BE ALLOCATED TO ELIGIBLE WEST VIRGINIA STUDENTS
During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that there will be a third round of the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits allocated to eligible students who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since 2020, P-EBT funding has resulted in more than $328 million in food assistance support for West Virginia children.

“This third round of benefits is going to pour another $82 million into West Virginia for our children,” Gov. Justice said. “Our children are the greatest treasure we have in West Virginia, and making sure our kids have enough to eat is absolutely the most important thing we can do. I’m really happy to announce this and very appreciative of everyone who made this possible.”
The P-EBT program will continue to be administered through the West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
MORE INFO: wvpebt.org
During his remarks Friday, DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch said that households will receive a letter from the DHHR about their students’ P-EBT benefits.

“The ongoing pandemic has provided uncertain times in our schools and we’re hopeful that these payments will assist families in keeping children nourished and ready to learn,” Sec. Crouch said.
The DHHR will roll out these benefits in April 2022 and apply them retroactively to the beginning of the school year. Families with eligible students can expect to receive a single issuance for the Fall 2021 term and two additional payments for the Spring 2022 term. 
CASE NUMBERS & BOOSTER INFO
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia’s number of active COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, ICU patients, and patients on ventilators all continue to decline across the board.

There are now just 3,339 active cases of COVID-19 statewide. Over the past month, total active cases have decreased by more than 84%.

Since nearing peak capacity in early February, West Virginia’s hospitals have seen the number of patients with severe cases of COVID-19 drop by nearly half.

Overall hospitalizations are down 47% since the most recent peak, while ICU patients and patients on ventilators are down 46% in the same timeframe.

COVID-19 Dashboard | Coronavirus.wv.gov

“Not that long ago, our hospital numbers were basically double what they are now,” Gov. Justice said. “And our statewide color-coded county map is looking a lot better too, with no red or orange counties.”

An updated breakdown of the West Virginia County Alert Map is as follows:
Red (0) | Orange (0) Gold (3) | Yellow (20) | Green (32)
Still, after reading the ages and locations of another 58 individuals who have passed away from COVID-19 since Wednesday, Gov. Justice continued to urge West Virginians to get vaccinated and boosted.

“The majority of the people we’ve lost of late are over 50. If you’re that age and you’re not vaccinated or boosted, that’s nuts. You are exposing yourself like crazy,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re losing our wisdom in West Virginia. These people could guide our next generation of young people. You’ve got to get your vaccine or your booster shot. That’s all there is to it.”

COVID-19 booster shots are authorized and encouraged for all West Virginians ages 12 and older.

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. Read more about booster eligibility at CDC.gov.
FIND A VACCINE NEAR YOU
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 remain available for free for all West Virginians 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.
WEST VIRGINIA NATIONAL GUARD TO DEPART TO D.C.
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice announced that approximately 80 Soldiers and Airmen from various units in the West Virginia Army and Air National Guard will depart to Washington, D.C. to support security operations for the U.S. Capitol Police.

“With the potential trucker situation in D.C., they’re going to help with traffic control and pedestrian control,” Gov. Justice said. “I always go over and over just how incredibly important our National Guard is. These people do great stuff. We’re blessed to have them in every way.”
GOV. JUSTICE DISCUSSES RUSSIAN INVASION OF UKRAINE
Gov. Justice also took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to ask West Virginians for their prayers amid escalating conflict as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine.

“We offer up our prayers for those people,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s just really sad.

“We don’t know the extent of what Putin really wants to do, other than he’d like to put everything back together how the Soviet Union was at one time,” Gov. Justice continued. “We don’t know what the repercussions will be yet for us in this country. But we know it’s not going to be good.

“We need to realize we have made one whale of a mistake in this country. The pipeline should be finished in West Virginia; the Keystone Pipeline ought to be up and going. When it boils right down to it, we’ve got to realize there’s some real bad actors out there. The United States of America could be totally energy independent and the bad actors would be minimized.

The Governor added, “The Biden administration needs to step back and say this country needs to be totally energy independent. If we were, we’d feel stronger today. With where we are, inflation-wise, and all the challenges we have right now, it’s not going to be good.”
COVID-19 RESOURCES
GOV. JUSTICE PREVIEWS BIG BUCK PHOTO CONTEST AWARD CEREMONY
Gov. Justice also took time to announce that, following his briefing, he would hold a ceremony at the State Culture Center to announce the 21 youth finalists and five adult prize winners of the first-ever WV Big Buck Photo Contest.

Participating hunters entered the contest by submitting a photo of themselves with a buck harvested during the 2021 hunting season, along with a written account of their hunt.

The contest allowed hunters of all ages the opportunity to win one of several incredible prizes. Youth entrants could win a free resident child lifetime license or a gift card from Bass Pro Shops or Cabela’s. Adult entrants could win a free lifetime West Virginia hunting license, a gift card from Bass Pro Shops or Cabela’s, or a two-night stay in a cabin at Cabwaylingo or Seneca state forests.

Click here to watch ceremony & see prize winners

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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Banner Images Courtesy of the West Virginia Department of Commerce

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