CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice again hit on the importance of getting the state’s younger residents vaccinated, during Friday’s virtual COVID-19 briefing.
Hammering home the risk, the governor reported that the average age of West Virginians who are currently testing positive for COVID-19 is 34.
Justice recounted a visit he made Thursday to a Wendy’s drive-thru, where he talked to three young employees who asked him when they could get rid of their masks. Justice asked the trio if they’d been vaccinated. One had, while the other two said they hadn’t and were scared to get the shots, based of stories of serious side effects they heard rumors about. “People are just scaring each other. It’s not true,” the governor responded.
The governor also addressed the plan he announced earlier this week to give $100 savings bonds to all 16-35 year-olds who get vaccinated, describing the idea as “old timey with a patriotic flavor.”
Justice repeated that all residents in that age group will get the bonds, regardless of when they got or get their shots. “I don’t think it’s a silver bullet, but it can be the tool that helps us get across the finish line,” said the governor.
The state will announce details on Monday of a “complete roll-out” to take vaccines to the young population.
Gov. Justice also announced that between now and Memorial Day, vaccine clinics will be set up at for employees, families and guests at the following West Virginia State Parks and Forests: Berkeley Springs, Cedar Creek, Chief Logan, Coopers Rock, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Little Beaver, Pipestem, Tu-Endie-Wei and Tygart Lake. On Memorial Day, clinics will be set up in all parks and forests, Justice said.
A final push on vaccines could lead to a lessening or the end of the state’s mask mandate, Justice hinted. “If we would just take the vaccines, for crying out loud, we could stop it,” he said.
Full vaccine data, broken down by age and first and second shots, has been added to the state’s coronavirus dashboard. Data on COVID variants in the state has also been added to the website.
Officials announced that the state has signed a five year contract with VitalChek, a LexisNexis company, for an electronic death reporting system. The announcement comes on the heels on some miss-reported deaths numbers uncovered by state officials.
Keeping in with tradition started for the Super Bowl, Justice brought his pet “Baby Dog” on at the end of the briefing to offer picks for Saturday’s running of the Kentucky Derby. Wearing a derby-inspired hat, Baby Dog predicted that Essential Quality will win, with Highly Motivated and close second and Hot Rod Charlie as the longshot. Justice suggested a “parlay trifecta” based on Baby Dog’s picks. You can tune into WBOY-NBC on Saturday afternoon to see if Baby Dog is right.