CHARLESTON, W.Va. – After announcing on Wednesday that 168 COVID-19 deaths in West Virginia had gone unreported, Gov. Jim Justice reported Friday that after the numbers were “scrubbed,” the total is now 165.
Justice then read the ages and home counties of all 165, taking nearly 20 minutes to do so, pausing at times to lament victims who were either on the young or particularly old end of the spectrum. “It’s tough reading the names, but it’s nothing compared to the honor that we should give to all those people all the time,” Justice said.
The governor encouraged people to “wear your mask for a little bit longer,” as state officials reminded residents that West Virginia is still the most vulnerable state in the U.S. based on health.
Justice celebrated the fact that there are currently only three outbreaks in long-term care facilities in the state, after previously having more than 100.
Officials also announced that 207,169 West Virginians over age 65(55% of that segment of population) have gotten their first vaccine shot and more than half of those have gotten a second shot.
The state will be focusing on getting the rest of that population to take the vaccine, with Justice saying they needed to try to get the word out better. He reminded anyone having trouble getting registered for a vaccine, that they can call 833-734-0965 for help.
There are 373,000 residents currently registered with the state to be vaccinated, but officials are still looking for people in the following counties to register: Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Gilmer, Grant, McDowell, Pleasants, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Tucker, Tyler, Webster, Wirt and Wyoming.
When asked for his reaction to President Biden’s Thursday night address on the anniversary of COVID-19 in the U.S., Justice said he cannot condone the tone Biden took and was upset with Biden’s lack of appreciation for what President Trump did.
Referencing the latest federal stimulus package, Justice said he was “glad that we went big, but not glad that we threw money away.”
Hoping to capitalize on re-openings around the country, Justice mentioned Thursday’s announcement of the state’s new vacation guide, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads.”