CHARLESTON, W.Va. – “It ought to get every one of our attentions,” West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said while reporting the state’s latest COVID-19 related deaths(667) and record high numbers of people hospitalized(436) and in ICU(136) with COVID-19.
The only alternative to shutdowns is wearing masks, the governor said. While he does not see a need to have to do that right now, due to West Virginia’s statistics being better than other states, it may come down to actions in specific counties, based on the recommendations of state experts, the governor explained. Justice did not offer a timeline for when those kinds of actions might be taken.
“We’re close to that vaccine and if you’re close to being able to have something that will save your life, for crying out loud just think really hard about what you ought to be doing,” Justice said, in reference to mask wearing and social distancing.
Reacting to social media posts by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, questioning his mask mandate, Justice said:
“I was damn disappointed! That’s all there is to it, there’s no other way to say it. I have supported Patrick in every way I possibly can and I think its a crying shame that he may have overlooked the severity of this situation. Dividing us is basically what we’re really talking about here. That’s the last thing we need to be doing right now. It has nothing to do with our constitutional liberties, it has nothing to do with taking our guns or whatever it may be. It has one and only one thing to do with and that’s just this: If you want to just walk over a cliff yourself, well more power to you, but you can’t be doing something that could possibly cause a lot of harm to others and just do it because, per se, it’s your liberty. What is the difference between driving drunk and saying well that’s my liberty. We are a nation of laws. I’m not trying to infringe on anyone, but right now in this situation, this mask is the only thing I got. This is all I got to try to help stop this. And to just say people can do whatever they want, is not wise. It came off to me as even degrading to our police. Our police are people who know how to handle people and get along. There’s not police running through the neighborhoods throwing people in jail. You think I’d be for that? There’s no way on this planet I’d be for that. The bottom line is just as simple as mud: are going to listen to the politicians or listen to the experts? If this didn’t have politics smell all over it, then I don’t know my name. If someone came to you with leprosy and said they wanted to go downtown to the daycare center and then they wanted to walk through whatever school it may be and then walk through the Capitol and then they wanted to go to the WVU football game, you’d say that’s their right? I don’t buy that. I don’t buy that in any way. I am standing rock solid for everyone’s rights, but for crying out loud in this situation right here, I’m going to be your governor. I’m going to listen to the experts. This stuff, all it does is divide us, divide us in playing to some to political deal. I’m not going to listen to politicians. I’m not going to do it.”WV Gov. Jim Justice
Almost 40,000 West Virginians were tested over the weekend, with 1,033,510 people tested in the state to date, Justice reported. The governor encouraged people to get tested before traveling before Thanksgiving
High School Sports:
When asked about high school sports, Justice said that a decision on whether the football Super Six could be held in Ohio County, was not necessary at this time. Justice also said that the January 11 start of winter sports “looks tough” and might have to be pushed back further.
Maj. Gen. Hoyer’s retirement:
Also during the briefing, Justice announced that the head of the West Virginia National Guard, Maj. General James Hoyer is set to retire after 40 years in uniform and almost 10 as West Virginia’s adjutant general. In addition to his military work, Hoyer has helped with Virgin HyperLoop project and with repurposing surface mine sites, Justice said.
Hoyer is not leaving the realm of public service, however and has been appointed as a senior associate vice president at West Virginia University and will continue on the joint interagency task force on vaccination and as a key member of Justice’s COVID team. “While I may be changing uniforms, my intent is to still be with you to take care of the people of West Virginia and figure out how to do more,” Hoyer said.
Brig. General Bill Crane will take over for Hoyer. That transition will happen on January 4, Justice said.
The governor will hold another briefing on Wednesday, but will then hold off on briefings until Monday, unless something big warrants one, he said.