West Virginia expanding coronavirus vaccine eligibility; Gov. Justice alludes to lessening business, social restrictions again in near future


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Jim Justice remains optimistic about the direction the state is going during the coronavirus pandemic.

He touched on the nine deaths the state has recorded since his last briefing on Monday, saying that the situation overall is improving.

“We have only lost nine more people, and…that’s not good in, surely, most of the ways, but, but if you’re looking at these numbers, and how West Virginia’s doing, it’s still real, real progress,” said Justice.

The state’s death toll is now 2,309, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

“In the last seven weeks, we have decreased, our, our deaths have reduced by 85%. That sounds great, doesn’t it?” Justice asked. “But, for these nine great families and great people, you know, it’s tragic.”

The daily percent positivity is 3.13%, and the cumulative percent positivity is 5.43%, according to the DHHR. The state has recorded 232 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.

On the county alert system map, a majority of counties are now green. The breakdown is currently six orange, nine gold, eight yellow and 32 green.

Justice alluded to further loosening restrictions on businesses, schools and public gatherings in the state.

“I hope to be able to do another announcement on this coming Friday to where we’re going to be able to maybe even lower those restrictions even more,” said Justice. “We want to be smart, don’t we, West Virginia? We want to be safe, and we want to absolutely maintain as much health as we can, but we gotta keep on living.”

The state has administered 302,793 first doses of vaccines, and 199,611 people have been fully vaccinated.

West Virginia is shifting to Phase 2-A of its COVID-19 vaccination program. This lowers the age to 50 years and older for all West Virginians, 40 years and older for teachers and school service personnel and 16 years and older for the high-risk population with chronic medical conditions.

These conditions include Down Syndrome; intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caretakers; caretakers of those with congenital or acquired disease; organ or bone marrow transplant; obesity (BMI>35); sickle cell anemia; cystic fibrosis; and pregnancy.

Justice will hold another virtual town hall on his personal income tax repeal proposal Thursday at 5:30 pm. Questions can be submitted online or by calling 304-558-2000.

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