CHARLESTON, W.Va. – “We all know the severity. Some probably don’t take it with the level of seriousness we should,” West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said while listing off the state’s 28 latest COVID-19 deaths during his Wednesday briefing.
The state has a new record high number(510) of people hospitalized due to COVID-19, up from 436 on Monday, Justice reported.
“Just wear a mask, whether you believe in it or don’t believe in it,” Justice urged. “What’s the downside?,” he asked.
As a warning, Gov. Justice played a CBS News report on the high rates of COVID-19 in South Dakota, which have been attributed to residents choosing to not wear masks.
“I know that we are strong-willed people in West Virginia and we have our rights and no one is trying to infringe on your rights in any way,” Justice said, again addressing blowback from people who don’t agree with his mask mandate.
“To say it doesn’t work, are you kidding me?, Of course it works,” said the governor, summing up his comments on masks.
He encouraged West Virginians to be with their families on Thanksgiving, but to be careful.
The West Virginia National Guard is working on the plan to distribute the vaccines when they arrive. Initial vaccination focus will be on nursing homes and the state’s healthcare system, Maj. Gen. James Hoyer said.
The governor said that he will be issuing an executive order next week to stand up the state’s vaccine task force, in preparation for the arrival of the vaccines.
Justice said he would get vaccinated himself, as soon as it was available, adding that he’d be vaccinated live on TV, as he did with the flu shot in early October.
The state’s coronavirus “czar,” Dr. Clay Marsh, also said that he would not have any reservations about being vaccinated.
COVID-19 & WV Schools:
After 12 News asked Gov. Justice on Monday for his take on a decision by the Randolph County Board of Education to end its distance learning model, the governor again brought the topic up, saying: “overwhelmingly we’re really failing with virtual learning across this country and West Virginia as well.” Citing 24 outbreaks, with 106 confirmed cases in state schools, Justice said: “I don’t know that there’s a place much safer than our schools.”
He added that the only way to keep schools open, is for people to follow the guidelines he’s been preaching.
Gov. Justice took time out of his COVID-19 briefing to mention three positive things happening in West Virginia.
First, he reiterated an announcement made Monday by Welsh company DST Innovations that it plans to bring up to 1,000 jobs to the Morgantown area and the state’s Southern Coalfields, for its hard carbon technology business.
Justice then detailed an announcement from WVU Medicine that its doctors in Morgantown performed the state’s first dual organ transplant, giving a new heart and kidney to a Fairmont man.
The governor then brought up Tuesday’s announcement that the West Virginia Air National Guard, based in Charleston, has been chosen as a new home for the C-130 J Super Hercules airplane.