CHARLESTON, W.Va. – “This thing is running rampant right now,” West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said Friday, after noting the 38 latest COVID-19 deaths in the state.
New all-time state highs have again been set for COVID-19 patients in the ICU(250) and on ventilators(151), Justice reported. “If things get worse, we’re going to overrun our hospitals,” which could lead to doctors having to choose which patients live or die, the governor said.
Push for Vaccinations
The governor quickly turned to the topic of vaccinations: “We can stop this West Virginia. The vaccines are safe. The vaccines are not an invasion on anyone. Growing up as kids, we got vaccines. West Virginia still lags behind.” Republican governors “have got to be the biggest cheerleaders of all to encourage people to get vaccinated,” Justice continued.
However, Justice went on to say that mandates are something he “absolutely does not believe in.” When asked if he would support legislation proposed by some state Republicans that would prevent mask and vaccine mandates, Justice said he doesn’t “support making mandates against mandates. We have really lost our way. I always thought that true Republicans stood for private business doing what they want to do. It seems like something the Democrats would’ve come up with. It is almost comical to think that Republicans are trying to come up with a way to put restrictions on private businesses. I truly believe that it is not government’s place to tell private business what to do.”
The governor also said that he believes President Biden’s idea to use a OSHA to require vaccinations among many employees of private businesses “is wrong, is an overreach by the federal government beyond belief,” and is just “grabbing at straws.”
Justice did say that he would support coming up with incentives for businesses that get their employees vaccinated.
School Mask Mandates
Fifty-one of the state’s 55 counties now have some type of school mask mandate, with Mingo, Ohio, Putnam, and Pocahontas counties, the only hold-outs. “This is a no brainer,” Justice said. State coronavirus “czar” Dr. Clay Marsh congratulated the school systems that have taken these measures.
“Do it for Babydog” recap
The governor also took a few moments to recap his visit to north central West Virginia, on Thursday, where he handed out prizes through the “Do it for Babydog” vaccination sweepstakes. Justice talked about having really good experiences at both North Marion and Morgantown high schools.