CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) – “The bridge(to the vaccine) was costly,” West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said as he read the latest deaths, now totaling 1,953, leading off his Wednesday, January 27 virtual COVID-19 briefing.
The governor gave an update on vaccination efforts with more than 171,000 people vaccinated, of those 76,924 residents are 65 and above. On the nursing home and assisted living front, more than 16,000 residents and more than 18,000 staff have been vaccinated, Justice said. Also, nearly 17,000 teachers and school personnel have received shots, he continued.
Currently, county-by-county vaccination data is not available, but should be early next month, state officials said.
Concerns about second shot availability that are making their way around social media are “absolutely incorrect,” retired Maj. Gen. James Hoyer said.
While state officials have been told that they will get a small number of additional doses(3,700), but would like to receive thousands more, per week, Justice said. “I’m doing every single thing I can possible do,” to try to get more doses, the governor continued. “We keep screaming for more and more doses,” but so far, “we’ve not been rewarded for all the great work we’ve done,” he said.
The governor reminded residents to use the state’s new vaccine pre-registration system, saying the process takes about 10 minutes. More than 100,000 people have registered, so far, Justice said. The WV DHHR is working with local agencies to merge existing vaccine waiting lists into the statewide system, which should be done by Feb. 8, officials said. “No one will jump line,” DHHR Sec. Bill Crouch said.
Justice again talked about all of the national media appearances he’s made to discuss the state’s vaccination successes. “The more we tout our pond, the more people that are going to come to our pond,” he said.
Regardless of vaccinations, Justice continued to plead with residents to wear masks: “I’m out of breath ‘yelling wear your mask’!”
The state’s two largest food banks, Facing Hunger and the Mountaineer Food Bank, have distributed more than 34 million pounds of food during the pandemic, Gov. Justice reported. Representatives from the two food banks joined the briefing to present the governor with a “hunger hero” award.
Replacement for Del. Evans named:
The governor announced that he is appointing Joshua Booth, of Kenova, to replace Del. Derrick Evans in the 19th District, who resigned after being arrested for his role in the storming of the U.S. Capitol. When asked about some controversy over how Booth was nominated, Justice said it would have to be left to lawyers.
Wind Farm Announcement:
Justice also mentioned Monday’s announcement of the Black Rock Wind Farm, a $200 million+ investment in Grant and Mineral counties.