CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia health leaders and other officials Monday for a press briefing detailing the State’s COVID-19 response.
VACCINATIONS NOW AVAILABLE TO ALL WEST VIRGINIANS AGE 65 AND OLDER; MORE CLINICS ANNOUNCED
During Tuesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia will start offering COVID-19 vaccines to state residents age 65 and older beginning immediately.
“This is what the CDC is asking us to do, and we surely don’t want any obstacles in front of us to get more vaccines moving forward,” Gov. Justice said. “Our clinics will have the ability to vaccinate 10,000 West Virginians age 65 and older every day.
“Imagine how many lives we’re saving,” Gov. Justice continued. “Three weeks ago, we were thinking that we probably weren’t going to be able to get to people in this age group until April. But then we moved and we really kicked it in gear.”
The Governor also announced that several additional COVID-19 vaccine clinics will be held across the state this week through operation “Save Our Wisdom.”
The free vaccination clinics will be held in Berkeley, Braxton, Cabell, Greenbrier, Hancock, Hardy, Harrison, Kanawha, Logan, Marshall, Mercer, Monongalia, Pocahontas, Raleigh, Randolph, and Wood counties. Residents from any county in West Virginia may access an appointment at any of the vaccination clinics listed, regardless of their county of residence.
Many clinics are listed as full as they are utilizing existing waitlists. However, they will continue to place new individuals on a waitlist. All clinics require appointments and walk-ins will not be accepted.
WEST VIRGINIA REMAINS NATIONAL LEADER WITH 99.6 PERCENT FIRST DOSE VACCINATION RATE
Additionally Tuesday, Gov. Justice once again reported that West Virginia continues to lead the nation in the rate of COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration.
According to the latest vaccine numbers posted to the COVID-19 Dashboard Tuesday morning, West Virginia is now up to a first dose administration rate of 99.6 percent.
“West Virginia is knocking it so far out of the park, it’s unbelievable,” Gov. Justice said. “I congratulate all those that are making it all happen. I’m not ashamed of the fact that I’ve pushed and pushed, and I’m still going to continue to do that.
“I want the shots in people’s arms,” Gov. Justice continued. “If we’re at 99.6, I want to take it to 100 percent. We want to not only lead the whole nation, we want to lap the field.”
If you adjust for Tuesday’s numbers on Bloomberg.com’s COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker (below left), West Virginia’s administration rate is more than 20 percent ahead of second place North Dakota.
West Virginia also remains the top-ranked state in the country for vaccine distribution on a per capita basis, according to the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccination Tracker (below right).
West Virginia has recorded a second dose administration rate of 85.5 percent.
To-date, West Virginia has administered 132,192 first doses and 24,181 second doses, totaling 156,373 doses administered overall statewide.
Every first dose of vaccine that has been delivered to the state has either already been administered or is assigned to a name to be administered in the next few days.
However, the Governor went on to explain that an allocation of 25,000 more vaccine doses from the federal government, expected to arrive in West Virginia today, has not yet been delivered.
“It’s not acceptable,” Gov. Justice said. “I know everybody is trampling all over the place trying to get vaccines, but West Virginia is one of the oldest states, it’s one of the most critically ill states, and two-thirds of the nation’s population is within a day’s drive of us. We have to have more vaccines because we can save lives and we won’t leave them on the shelf.
“We’ve done what we were supposed to do. We got them in people’s arms. We’ve performed, and I think that performance ought to be rewarded,” Gov. Justice continued. “You’ve got some states where vaccines are sitting around in some warehouse and they’re piddling around, meanwhile, here we sit, ready to go. We’ve got to get more vaccines, that’s all there is to it. We’re pushing as hard as we can possibly push.”
The Governor also once again provided a reminder that the State has launched a new COVID-19 Vaccine Info Line to help West Virginians get information on the distribution process and availability of COVID-19 vaccines.
VACCINE INFO LINE: 1-833-734-0965
The line operates Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Visit vaccinate.wv.gov for more information, including details on vaccine availability and other frequently asked questions.
GOV. JUSTICE PAYS TRIBUTE TO WVDVA SECRETARY DENNIS DAVIS AFTER HIS UNEXPECTED PASSING
Also on Tuesday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks and announced that Dennis Davis, Cabinet Secretary for the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance, recently passed away.
“We have lost a great, great man in the State of West Virginia. As a Cabinet Secretary, he was all-in for our Veterans,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve lost a big man; a man that was towering in stature, but was absolutely a model in every way. He could be tough. But every time you saw him, you wanted to gravitate to him because of his smile and his warmth.
“This really, really hits home to me,” Gov. Justice continued. “I thought the entire world of this man.”
Davis was named Cabinet Secretary of the WVDVA in January 2017. Prior to his appointment, Davis, a U.S. Army Veteran himself, served as a member of the Honor Guard at the Donald C. Kinnard Veterans Cemetery.
“Dennis lived a lifetime of service to the State of West Virginia and to his country, and he had a profound impact on the more than 137,000 brave Veterans who call West Virginia their home,” Gov. Justice said. “Without question, he was an absolute patriot in every way, who cared deeply for the heroes across our state that served our nation.
“With Dennis leading the department over the last four years, more than $2 billion has been provided in support of West Virginia’s Veterans, and we were able to open four new regional Veterans Assistance offices in the last year alone,” Gov. Justice continued. “We also exempted military retirement income from the state income tax for our Veterans, we added dozens of brand-new Veteran transportation vans, dedicated multiple new monuments honoring our Veterans throughout West Virginia, and lots and lots more. All of these achievements, without question, would have never happened without Dennis Davis.
“What an honor it was for me to call Dennis Davis a great friend and a great Cabinet Secretary. This state and this nation will truly miss Dennis Davis. Cathy and I send our most heartfelt prayers and sympathies to Dennis’ wife Margaret, and all his family and friends. We are profoundly sad, but I’m sure Dennis is in a better place. He’s surely got that big smile going on right now and, without any question, he’s getting something done.”
WEST VIRGINIA SCHOOLS REOPEN FOR SPRING SEMESTER
Additionally, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that today marked the first day back to school for Pre-K-12 students in West Virginia for the spring semester.
Forty-eight of the state’s 55 counties were in school on Tuesday.
“Our West Virginia Board of Education has outlined the expectations for all of our counties to return to in-person instruction,” Gov. Justice said. “Some counties are phasing-in through a blended model, while others are starting with four to five days of in-person instruction.
“Many families have reached out to the Department of Education, I know this because they’re calling me too, saying we want our kids back in school because they know our schools are safe when mitigations are followed,” Gov. Justice continued.
Masks are mandated for all students age 9 and above. All school teachers and employees will be wearing them as well.
Approximately 50,000 children will remain in the virtual learning option.
All counties in the Red category of the DHHR County Alert Map will not attend in-person instruction until those counties are out of Red status.
“This, along with the blended learning model, significantly reduces the number of students in the school building, allowing for even more safety precautions with increased social distancing,” Gov. Justice said. “Many superintendents have reported today that the first day back is going smoothly and they are very excited to get our children back to school.”