CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice began Monday’s virtual COVID-19 briefing with some startling statistics.
Nearly 2,500 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported since Friday, with now more than 10,000 cases in the state. There are no longer any green counties on the state’s map.
Also, over the last eight weeks, health officials have seen a 26% increase in cases among fully vaccinated residents, a 21% increase, among the vaccinated, in cases requiring hospitalizations and a 25% increase in deaths among those who have gotten their shots, Gov. Justice said. Two state troopers on the governor’s detail, who were fully vaccinated, now have COVID, the governor said. While those percentages are unsettling, the “breakthrough cases” account for .4% of all of the state’s COVID-19 cases.
The governor wants to begin giving booster shots to residents 60 and above now, but the state hasn’t gotten the full go ahead from federal officials yet, he lamented. When approval is given, the state will be ready to give them, Justice said, asking residents to be ready to receive them.
Justice wants to stay away from a vaccination mandate for state employees, he said, despite the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine. “Everything is on the table,” though, Justice said.
Around 6,500 vaccinations have been given since last Friday, Justice said.
Gov. Justice took a moment to mourn the loss of West Virginia State Police Sgt. John Syner, 52, who died over the weekend.
The governor also took some time to address the fact that the Greenbrier County Board of Education voted not to hire him as its boys basketball coach at Greenbrier East High School. The decision left Justice with “some level of emptiness,” he said. The school’s principal, assistant principal and athletic director recommended him, he said, but the decision came down to the “ugliness of personal or political preference.” The decision will hurt the kids, not Justice, the governor went on to say, as he hinted at possible legal action.