WV Gov. Justice: ‘We can solve the riddle by getting vaccinated,’ holds off on mask mandate as COVID-19 cases rise


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Returning to a three-day-a-week schedule, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice continued to raise concern during Monday’s COVID-19 briefing.

The Delta variant has now been found in 29 West Virginia counties, active cases of COVID-19 in the state now sit at 2,480 and COVID-19-related hospitalizations are on the rise, now at 178, Justice and state officials reported.

There are now also only 18 “green” counties left on the DHHR’s County Alert Map. “Our green map has flat gone away,” the governor said.

Despite his concern, Gov. Justice said he doesn’t plan on issuing another mask mandate, at this time, but he does recommend that those 65 and older with pre-existing conditions consider wearing a mask in public. Issuing a mandate would “fragment our population like you can’t imagine. We don’t need to do it right now, but it will remain on the table,” Justice said.

On a positive note, the state is seeing an increase in vaccinations, up 7,500 since Friday, officials said. “We can solve the riddle by getting vaccinated,” Justice said.

Justice also talked more about the state’s plans for a “booster battlefield assessment,” which will test anti-body levels in older residents. The testing will start in nursing homes and assisting living facilities. Other residents, age 60 and above, can call the state’s hotline(1-800-887-4304) to volunteer. Health officials have a significant number of anti-body test kits already on hand, they said, with testing set to start in the next few days. Gov. Justice said he will get the test done Monday.

Officials also said that DataRobot, an artificial intelligence company that recently opened a Morgantown office, will help the state with trend analysis on the Delta variant.

The governor also said that the state was “on it” in helping Monongalia County residents and businesses affected by flooding last week.

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