UPDATE: WV Gov. Justice speaks out against COVID-19 anti-vaxxers & Sen. Manchin; Manchin responds

Coronavirus

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice spent a good portion of Monday’s virtual COVID-19 briefing encouraging all West Virginians to get vaccinated.

The state has seen a large reduction in its death rate, which Justice attributes to widespread vaccinations.

The governor spoke out about people who encourage others not to be vaccinated: “Misery loves company. A lot of these people are flat miserable all the time. Please don’t listen to that junk,” Justice said.

Gov. Justice described a situation at an assisted living facility where the residents and most of the staff were vaccinated, but eight staff members chose not to get the shot. None of those vaccinated have gotten COVID, but all eight un-vaccinated employees did contract it.

“Why wouldn’t you take this vaccine? You’re making a big mistake not taking this vaccine,” Justice said.

State officials said that more vaccination pre-registrations are needed in 15 West Virginia counties: Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Gilmer, Grant, McDowell, Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Tucker, Tyler, Webster, Wirt and Wyoming.

State officials are planning several initiatives this week to help with vaccination efforts, including, working to hep manufacturing and mining sector employees make vaccination appointments, getting grandparents who are raising grandchildren vaccinated, along with teachers over age 40. State call center workers will also be calling residents over 65 who haven’t yet been vaccinated, officials said.

Officials also announced that 59 independent pharmacies are being added to the list of providers in the state that will be able to provide vaccinations.

Despite the positive numbers, “we’re going to continue to wear our masks in West Virginia for awhile,” Justice said.

When asked about the latest federal stimulus package, Gov. Justice continued to advocate for a “big” package and lashed out against Sen. Joe Manchin for his support of federal legislation that says states can’t use COVID relief funds for state tax cuts, saying “he doesn’t care about you. He doesn’t care about the people of West Virginia.” Justice continued, accusing Manchin of “showboating.”

Later in the day, Manchin released a statement on Justice’s comments:

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin(D-WV)

“Instead of political attacks that do nothing to help hard working West Virginians, I welcome the opportunity to speak with Governor Justice about the best possible ways to improve the lives of West Virginians with the more than $2 billion in federal funding that I secured for our state in this bill. The COVID relief package that I voted for on Saturday will finally kill COVID and revitalize our economy in West Virginia. This package includes $1.25 billion that Governor Justice and the legislature will be responsible for managing. It also includes an additional $624 million that will go directly to city and county governments, $800 million for West Virginia schools, $260 million for childcare in West Virginia and $10 million for West Virginia Head Start programs. I fought to ensure that West Virginia will receive $140 million for broadband infrastructure to improve connectivity and $2 million to quickly get hotspots to those who need them to telework and learn. There is also tens of millions more for vaccines and rural health providers. Nearly every West Virginian will receive a stimulus check, and unemployment will be extended for those who have been most hurt during the pandemic. Policy differences do not justify personal attacks; I want to work with Governor Justice in the best interest of our state.”

Sen. Joe Manchin

Justice also spent time during the briefing advocating for his plan to eliminate the state’s income tax.

The governor thanked people for all the condolence cards and emails he received following the death of his Boston Terrier “Lucy.” Justice clarified that it was not “Baby Dog” that needed to be euthanized.

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