CHARLESTON, W.Va. –On Friday, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice stopped in the middle of reading the 73 latest deaths in West Virginia, to address a small group of protestors, taking part in a “Let Us Play” rally outside the Capitol: “It’s completely terrible to think that we can’t understand that I’ve just read the 1,500th name and I’ve still got 54 more names to read today. We don’t go back to school until the 19th or later, what in the world could we possibly be doing to be out there trying to say we want to play ball right now? I mean how smart could that possibly be? They can yell and bark at the moon all they want, but I can tell you without any question, we’re doing the right thing here. Do we really and truly need to be worried about sports when we’re not even in school?”
After finishing the list of deaths, now totaling 1,554, Justice posed a questions: “Isn’t it enough? For those out there who still believe that this thing isn’t real, for those out there that believe you shouldn’t be wearing a mask, for those out there that believe you shouldn’t take the vaccine, for those out there who are encouraging children to come and chant ‘let us play’, what’s it going to take?”
Vaccinations & Back to School:
“Other states are dropping the ball all over the place,” while West Virginia continues to lead the nation in the rate of vaccinating residents, Justice said. “Being number one is great, but we want to lap the field,” said the governor. Justice said he gets calls from the CDC and other governors, as well as attention from national media about how well the state’s vaccination efforts are going.
Addressing concerns from teachers and service personnel that they may not want to return to the classroom until being fully vaccinated, Justice said that it would be between February 15-20 before classes could resume, if schools waited for the full vaccinations. “We need to get back in school,” Justice concluded.
“I think it’s terrible. I think it’s a scar on West Virginia and I think he can come up with any excuse in the world, but being there and rushing and entering the Capitol of the United States of America, how in the world can we possibly, possibly think that’s anything but bad stuff. It’s terrible. There’s no way around it, it’s terrible. We’re just not this type of people. I do not know him, but his thoughts and his actions were not good,” Justice said. The governor doesn’t know the particulars of what he or the state legislature can do in regard to Evans, he said.
Late in the briefing, Justice announced that Evans had been charged federally with entering a restricted area.
Ret. Maj. Gen. James Hoyer gave an update on the PPE situation, saying the state’s stockpile was working well. Hoyer also talked about a facility in Boone County that is making three-ply masks, face shields, boot covers and bonnets and will soon be making gowns. The facility is waiting approval for N-95 masks that are also being made there, Hoyer said.
Concerns about media in the state:
The governor spent some time during the briefing issuing complaints that media outlets in the state aren’t doing enough coverage of positive efforts made by his administration on things like testing nursing home residents and staff and vaccinating the elderly. “You can’t brag enough about West Virginia,” he said. I don’t really care about what you say about me, but I care so much about what you say about West Virginia,” the governor continued.
Several members of the media pushed back against the governor’s assertions.