CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Early in West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s Wednesday’s COVID-19 briefing, he addressed the effect the Colonial Gas Pipeline shutdown is having on the state.
“Just stay calm,” Justice urged, explaining that the bulk of gasoline that comes to West Virginia does so through the Plantation Pipeline. The Colonial Pipeline is “not a significant fuel source in West Virginia, he said. “We’re creating our own gas shortage,” he continued, describing a photo he saw from a Barboursville gas station where someone was filling up crates on a flatbed trailer. “It’s nowhere close to being as serious in West Virginia as people have led you to believe,” Justice concluded.
COVID-19 briefing schedule reduced:
Due to a drop in viewership, Justice announced that he will switch to two briefings a week, down from his current schedule of three per week. Next week, the briefings will be held on Monday and Wednesday and in the weeks following on Tuesdays and Thursdays, he said. Looking long-term, Justice promised to do at least one briefing per week, to allow media outside of Charleston to ask him questions.
Switching to COVID-19, Gov. Justice provided an update on the state’s vaccination efforts, as seen in the chart below:
The state wants to get 65% of its total eligible population vaccinated. Right now 55.6% have gotten at least one dose.
Referencing the 16-35 year-old population, Justice said “We’re making headway, but we need more to step up.”
When asked about the status of his $100 incentive program, Justice said the state “ran into a snafu” on the savings bonds, but they could still be distributed electronically once officials got residents bank account information. Alternative $100 gift cards are also being offered. The cards are currently being printed with a patriotic motif. “We’re really close on it,” Justice said.
When full approval comes in the from the CDC, to vaccinate 12-15 year-olds, the state will be ready to provide those shots to the 78,000 kids in that age range, the governor said. Justice said he would look at some kind of monetary incentive program for these younger children, as well.
Mask Mandate Update:
Justice reminded residents that his mask mandate will end on June 20, but until then, people should continue to wear their masks. “These little doobies have done an incredible job,” Justice said, referencing masks.
Addressing a question about businesses in the state that are having a hard time finding workers, Justice said: “A lot of folks are scamming the whole system and going trout fishing instead of going back to work.” In response, the state is looking at getting rid of the extra $300 unemployment benefit, as well as an incentive program to get people back to work, he said.
FCC Broadband Program:
The governor also mentioned a new FCC program that provides $50 a month for broadband services for eligible households.