COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice observes two-year anniversary of first COVID briefing, State of Preparedness declaration

3/4/2022

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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.
GOV. JUSTICE OBSERVES TWO-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF FIRST COVID BRIEFING, STATE OF PREPAREDNESS DECLARATION
Gov. Justice announced that Friday marked the two-year anniversary of his very first statewide briefing to discuss COVID-19.

It also marked the two-year anniversary of the day he issued a State of Preparedness for COVID-19 and gathered with members of his administration to discuss the state’s next moves as the disease approached.

“I would have never believed that I’d still be in front of you talking about this two years later,” Gov. Justice said. “And even as long as it’s been, I still remember that day like it was yesterday. People were really scrambling around. We did not have a detected case in West Virginia yet, but we knew we had to get ready. So we got to work early on and we stayed ahead of the curve. West Virginia became the envy of the nation, if not the world. Here we were, out in front of everybody, because we gathered all the players together: the National Guard, the DHHR, all of the people that could give us real input into what was going on.

“This was supposed to wipe West Virginia completely off the map,” Gov. Justice continued. “It could have. We were the third oldest state in the nation, with the most chronic illnesses of any state, and we were a state surrounded on all sides by big populations of people. But even with all of that stacked against us, we stayed ahead of the curve.

“I want to take just a second today to thank all those out there that really did incredible work. You ran to the fire. All of our first responders, all those in the health care community across the board, the people that worked at the grocery stores; all West Virginians kept pulling the rope together. I could never thank you enough.”
CASE NUMBERS & VACCINE/BOOSTER INFO
On Friday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now just 2,088 active cases of COVID-19 statewide. The prior day’s active case count of 2,049 was the lowest daily active case total since July 28, 2021. Over just the past five weeks, total active cases have decreased by more than 90%.

COVID-19 Dashboard | Coronavirus.wv.gov

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

Overall hospitalizations are down 61% since the most recent peak, while ICU patients are down 55% and patients on ventilators are down 59% in the same timeframe.

An updated breakdown of the West Virginia County Alert Map is as follows:
Red (0) | Orange (0) Gold (1) | Yellow (7) | Green (47)
Still, after reading the ages and locations of another 59 individuals who have passed away from COVID-19 since Wednesday, Gov. Justice continued to urge West Virginians to get vaccinated and boosted.

Initial series vaccinations are available for free for all West Virginians ages 5 and older and booster shots are authorized and encouraged for all West Virginians ages 12 and older. Read more about vaccines and boosters at Vaccinate.wv.gov and at CDC.gov.
FIND A VACCINE NEAR YOU
COVID-19 RESOURCES
GOV. JUSTICE APPOINTS BRETT MCMILLION AS WVDNR DIRECTOR
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to announce that he has appointed Brett W. McMillion as Director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. 

“I congratulate Brett in every way,” Gov. Justice said. “I’ve taken my time with this selection because I really believe that – with how important our natural resources are to our state – the selection of who is going to head up the DNR is a tremendously important decision.”

Over the past 25 years, McMillion has served in administrative roles with Panther State Forest, Bluestone State Park, and Pipestem Resort State Park, before taking on the role of Deputy Chief of West Virginia State Parks.

“I am very, very confident that I’m selecting the right man for the job,” Gov. Justice added. “Brett has done an incredible job as the Deputy Chief of our State Parks system. I know he’ll do a wonderful job as our DNR Director.”

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GOVERNOR AWARDED WEST VIRGINIA MUSIC EDUCATORS ASSOCIATION’S PRESIDENTIAL AWARD
Additionally Friday, West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History Curator Randall Reid-Smith joined the briefing to announce that Gov. Justice was named as the winner of the West Virginia Music Educators Association’s annual Presidential Award.

“This is the first time in two years they’ve been able to get together to meet for their conference, and they wanted to say thank you for all you have done to keep the arts going in the state, especially through arts education,” Curator Reid-Smith said. “They are very grateful for you stepping up back in August 2020 and saying we have to have marching band at our high school football games. We were the only state to have a live marching band competition in 2020 because, as you said to me, ‘We’re going to come out of this one day and, when we come out of it, we want to make sure we have everything.’

“You have been strengthening the arts for five years now. Every year, we’ve gotten more funding for the arts. They’re an economic engine for our state,” Curator Reid-Smith added. “Governor, thank you so much.”
The Curator went on to say that Gov. Justice is now the only Governor to ever receive this award from the West Virginia Music Educators Association.

“I’m humbled, I’m thankful, and I’m proud because I’m sure you could have selected a lot of people that are way more deserving than I, but I do stand rock-solid in how I feel about our arts, our culture, and our history,” Gov. Justice said. “From our music right on down, I’m all-in. The arts are so much of our soul. I’ve really been proud to support the arts.

“You won’t ever have to question where I stand. I stand for us being proud of us,” Gov. Justice continued. “At the end of the day, I just believe that the more proud we are of us, the better things will be in West Virginia.”
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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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