CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Eleven more West Virginians have died since Gov. Jim Justice’s Monday coronavirus press briefing.
The state has recorded a total of 2,756 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
The daily percent positivity is 3.57%, while the cumulative percent positivity is 5.22%. There are 7,309 active cases and 137,138 recoveries, according to the DHHR.
The state has administered 670,092 first vaccine doses, and 471,901 people have been fully vaccinated.
The governor touched on the decision to suspend administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine based on concerns related to blood clots in some recipients.
“Everyone knows about Johnson & Johnson and, and the concerns,” said Justice. “I’m not a doctor, and I’m not gonna weigh in whether it’s warranted or not, but if, if, if what we’ve had is 6 million vaccines of Johnson & Johnson given out, and we have six people that are…having real problems, or maybe have died or whatever from blood, blood clots and whatever, it, you know, it’s, it’s one in a million.
“This is out of an abundance of caution, and upon the recommendation of the CDC and the FDA that all use of the Johnson & Johnson CO—COVID vaccine in West Virginia was paused immediately, until further, further notice.”
Justice said the state will not “slow up” on holding vaccine events, saying there are “plenty of vaccines out there.”
The governor continues to encourage people to get vaccinated and not be afraid to do so.
“I tell you over and over, please take the vaccine. You know, this, this taboo of being scared to death about this thing is silly,” said Justice. “If everyone around me, everyone around me had had the vaccine…and I was the only one left out, I would be running, running to get the vaccine. Please get vaccinated.”
Justice was asked about efforts to convince people who are reluctant to get vaccinated to change their minds. He said the state will continue to push for people to choose to get a coronavirus vaccine.
“Wouldn’t it just be plain terrible that the only way we can convince them is more people die?” said Justice. “At the end of the day, if we don’t get vaccinated, more people will die.
“We’ll continue our marketing efforts in every way. We will amp up our marketing efforts. There’s no question that the Johnson & Johnson news will cause some more hesitancy in people, but absolutely, at the end of the day, I hope and pray that how they’re convinced will not be at the expense of either their loved ones or a whole bunch of other loved ones that die.”
The governor also went over the remote worker program the state recently implemented. The program is now accepting applications for the first 50 openings in Morgantown. Justice said there has been great interest in the program since applications became available this week.
Speaking about Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby updating him on the program’s launch, Justice said she told him, “Governor, do you realize in the last two hours that we’ve been up, we have over 200—200 applicants that have filled out the whole hour-long application process in 38 different states?
“Last night, at 9:15, Chelsea calls back again. ‘Governor, let me give you an update, governor.’ Now, just think about it. ‘Governor, now we have 55,000 people, 55,000 people that have inquired about the possibility of coming to West Virginia, and 2,000 of them have absolutely filled out the entire application.'”
Justice said this happened within 36 hours of announcing the program.
In light of this development, the governor was disheartened about the failure of his personal income tax repeal proposal to make it to his desk.
“Here is more testimony. In 36 hours, 55,000 people have looked at West Virginia, and 2,000 have filled out an application that took an hour out of their life to do it, for 50 spots,” said Justice. “I really hope and pray that we do not go down in history as doing the absolute thing that hurt us when we had the moment right at our hands. We had the moment to absolutely turn the floodgates open for people to come to this great state.
“This remote worker program is good, but can you just imagine a state, a state where people are looking at right now, where they could come and not have income tax, absolutely they would have come in droves.”
By the end of the governor’s press briefing, the number of people expressing interest in the program went up again. Justice said more than 65,000 people have asked about it, and that number will reach 75,000 before the end of Wednesday.