CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The number of hospitalized COVID patients(1,088) in West Virginia has reached another all-time high, up from 1,043 in Wednesday’s report, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said during Friday’s virtual COVID-19 briefing. “We’re absolutely flooding our hospitals, we’re overrunning our hospitals. If we don’t watch out, we’re going to have real, real problems there,” Justice said.

There are currently 339 West Virginia National Guardsmen assisting 39 healthcare facilities in the state, according to officials. Even when cases come down, hospitals will still see the effects of the surge for some time, state health officials said.

The number of COVID cases in the state’s prisons and jails also continues to rise, with 804 inmates and 257 staff now testing positive, Justice reported.

The West Virginia DHHR has added a new “outbreaks” tab to the state’s coronavirus dashboard, which details outbreaks in correctional facilities and long term care facilities.

After noting 69 more COVID deaths in the state, Justice said: “overwhelmingly, the people that we are losing, the people that we’ve already lost are unvaccinated. All I ask you to do is consider and stack the deck in your favor. Absolutely, you should do that.”

“I’ve told you over and over about getting your booster shot, I do not understand how in the world people can not get their booster shot, but we’ve got a lot of folks out there that haven’t gotten it and that’s a big time mistake,” Justice went on.

Gov. Justice also took a few moments to mention the state’s new JumpStart program which will pay certain residents $1,500 to go back to work.

The governor was asked to defend his actions during Thursday night’s State of the State address, where he picked up “Babydog,” showed the dog’s rear end and suggested that Bette Midler “kiss her hiney,” in response to Midler’s comments, last December, that Sen. Joe Manchin wanted the rest of the country to be like West Virginia, “poor, illiterate and strung out.”

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice holds up his dog Babydog’s rear end as a message to people who’ve doubted the state as he comes to the end of his State of the State speech in the House chambers, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, in Charleston, W.Va. (Chris Dorst/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP)

“I don’t like people making bad comments about West Virginia. We can either accept them or reject them,” Justice began. The governor went on that he doesn’t think “we should always take the high road.”

“I’m going to defend our people. I’m not backing up a bit. If they cast rocks at my West Virginians, I’m going to cast rocks back, like it or not like it. That’s all there is to it. I’m too proud to not defend our people,” he continued.

The governor said he hasn’t heard from Midler since making the comment, but that he’d welcome her call and for her to come to West Virginia.

Justice went on to suggest that people upset by his actions “should have a little bit of fun. I probably do a few things that are a little out there. Some people are too much a prude. I could care less,” he concluded.