CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Jim Justice announced Friday a new initiative to help with vaccination efforts across West Virginia.
The West Virginia Vaccination Assistance, Collaboration and Support team, or WV VACS, is a partnership between the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, the West Virginia National Guard and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to train health science students from colleges and universities in the state to support vaccine clinics.
More than 1,000 students have signed up for training to take part in the initiative, and more than 100 of them have completed the training, according to Justice.
“Our higher ed folks are stepping up. Our students are stepping up. They’re getting on, on, on the, the job training. It is really, really good,” said Justice.
West Virginia has lost 12 more residents to coronavirus since Justice’s Wednesday press briefing.
The state has now lost 2,688 people during the pandemic.
The DHHR is reporting 420 new cases of the virus in the last day. The daily percent positivity is 3.48%, while the cumulative percent positivity is 5.25%.
There are 6,642 active cases of coronavirus in the state, along with 133,323 recoveries.
First dose vaccine administration has now surpassed half-a-million. 518,543 people have received a first dose, while 342,851 people are fully vaccinated, according to the DHHR.
The governor took time to address other topics during Friday’s briefing, including his tax plan and state revenues. In March, West Virginia posted a $27.4 million surplus, which was 3.6% above last year. For fiscal year 2021, which will end June 30, the state has a $235.4 million surplus.
“I said, right off the get-go in my first state of the state, that we have got to do something about changing our image to the world because they just didn’t have any idea how good we really are,” said Justice. “I’m telling you that right this minute is our time to put us on a pathway to eliminate our personal income tax. If we wait, we’re gonna lose time.”
Justice continued: “We’ve got to craft this thing to where we’re really sure that the folks that are out there, that are struggling a little bit, or maybe the folks out there that are just kinda getting by, we don’t put this on their back. We’ve got to be sure that every wage, or every class that we go through, whether it be a $10,000, less than $10,000, or it be above $100,000, everybody stays cash positive.
“If we can do this, we will pump so much money into, into West Virginia’s economy. We will put it back into the hands of the people, and let them decide what they want to do with their money. That’s exactly what we should be doing,” said Justice.
The governor announced a summit scheduled for Monday at noon, during which time he will meet with leaders from both parties in both legislative chambers about coming to an agreement on a personal income tax repeal.
“I am perfectly willing to compromise in every way on my stuff. I’ve said it a million times,” Justice said.