CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia’s vaccination efforts again took center stage in Gov. Jim Justice’s Friday afternoon COVID-19 briefing, as the state’s death toll crossed 1,700.
The state continues to lead the nation with a 93.7% administration rate for first doses. State officials continue to push the federal government for more doses, the governor said. The amount the state is set to receive changes frequently, Justice said. The governor read excerpts from several news articles that touted the state’s vaccine response.
More than 19,000 teachers and service personnel, over age 50, out of 24,000, have been vaccinated over the past two weeks, state officials said.
Gov. Justice announced that 17 more vaccination clinics are planned for next week. Justice also encouraged all counties to be ready to hold vaccination events.
During the briefing, the governor hosted a brief visit by officials from the Harrison-Clarksburg Health Department, which vaccinated 550 residents from six counties this week.
The governor took several questions about issues people are having trying reach local health departments to make appointments for vaccinations. The governor and state officials said they are working to help make phone services more accessible, but said the state’s vaccination rate speaks for itself.
Justice also announced that the state will received 267 addition doses of anti-body treatments next week.
WV National Guard troops to deploy to D.C.:
Another announcement made by the governor was that 475 West Virginia National Guard members are being sent to Washington, D.C. for next week’s Presidential Inauguration, “to assist civilian law enforcement and officials with the protection of property and providing a safe environment for citizens to exercise their right to peacefully assemble and protest.” As a part of the deployment, a specialized team from the 35th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosive (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) will provide assistance to the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services, National Guard officials said. The Guard members will be prepared to be armed and wear protective equipment, official said.
Reaction to return to school fallout:
Following his call for a return to the classroom on January 19, a subsequent decision by the West Virginia Board of Education to mandate the governor’s call and the threat of an injunction by a state teachers union, Justice said that schools that don’t follow the board’s mandate will have to deal the consequences. “If that’s not good enough, then you’re on your own. We can’t make it any better than what it is right now,” said Justice. You can hear more of the governor’s comments on the school situation below:
Justice was also asked about concerns of students bringing COVID home from schools to grandparents. The governor’s response was: “What do you think our kids are doing today? They’re all over the place, they’re with all kinds of kids all over the place, every day.”
Justice also talked about attending the memorial service for West Virginia native Gen. Chuck Yeager, earlier on Friday.
With Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Justice’s inauguration scheduled for next week, his COVID-19 briefings will be held on Tuesday and Thursday, instead of Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Justice said.