CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia health leaders and other officials earlier this week for a daily press briefing regarding the state’s COVID-19 response, including the announcements that vaccines would be made available at state parks.
According to a news release from the governor’s office, he reiterated his announcement first made on Friday that free COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be held at all West Virginia State Parks and State Forests between now and Memorial Day.
Several state park and forest locations will host clinics prior to Memorial Day. Then, on Memorial Day weekend, all West Virginia State Parks and Forests will offer vaccines to employees, employees’ families, and park guests.
According to the West Virginia State Parks website, clinics will be set up at central park locations outdoors. Before Memorial Day, free vaccine clinics will be set up at the follow state parks and forests:
Chief Logan State Park, Pipestem Resort State Park, Little Beaver State Park, Cedar Creek State Park, Coopers Rock State Forest, Kanawha State Forest, Greenbrier State Forest, Tygart Lake State Park, Berkeley Springs State Park and Tu-Endie-Wei State Park
Check WVstateparks.com frequently as dates will be posted here as soon as they become available.
Also on Monday, the governor announced that vaccination sites will be set up at several high-traffic locations across the state, including fairs and festivals, church parking lots, sporting events, state, national, and county parks, bars, restaurants, shopping centers, and malls, community and civic groups, and business organizations such as Main Street programs.
Vaccines will also be offered through organizations like the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services and other home health agencies, as well as through related programs such as Meals on Wheels.
Additionally, the governor said that State health officials will collaborate with hospitals and healthcare facilities to vaccinate patients on discharge, move messaging through primary care providers, open up vaccine availability to doctor’s offices and practices, and encourage physicians and medical professionals to engage with their local community clubs and organizations to push vaccine messaging.
“We are going to focus on new communication strategies to be able to really target our younger people through social media and streaming services,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re also going to reach out to the local EMS agencies to enhance vaccination opportunities.”
The governor added that he is encouraging local businesses to offer discounts for getting vaccinated or to provide other incentives to employees..
“If we have to go door-to-door, we’ll go door-to-door on community-based outreach as well,” Gov. Justice said. “Really and truly, we know these vaccines are incredibly safe and we know what can happen for those who are exposed and what is happening all across this land.
“We’ve got to do any and everything to be able to get our people finally across the top of the mountain.”
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice reminded West Virginians of multiple initiatives that are already underway to encourage more people to get vaccinated.
All West Virginians interested in being vaccinated are urged to pre-register for an appointment by visiting vaccinate.wv.gov or by calling the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965. The info line is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Vaccinations also continue to be made available at Walgreens locations, the Med Shoppe/Leader network of pharmacies, Walmart locations, and additional independent pharmacies throughout the state as part of the federal pharmacy partnership in West Virginia.
West Virginians can go to vaccinefinder.org for assistance in locating and securing an appointment at one of these federal pharmacy partners.
The JIATF continues to reach out to manufacturers and businesses across the state to increase vaccine access for employees and their families choosing to be vaccinated by organizing vaccination clinics at these facilities.
Additionally, church leaders are still being urged to contact the JIATF for help organizing vaccination clinics for interested members of their congregations.
Anyone interested in organizing one of these vaccination clinics is asked to contact the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965.
Also, Gov. Justice announced that he has extended child care subsidy assistance for all essential workers of any income level.
“It is critically important that all our essential workers continue to be supported in every way as they work to combat COVID-19,” Gov. Justice said. “This act of financial support enables our essential workers to know that we value their work, and gives them continued assurance of the safety and care provided to their children through West Virginia’s child care system.
“Thank you all for all you’ve done and all you continue to do in every way,” Gov. Justice continued. “We’re going to stand steadfast behind you and try to help you in every way we can.”
The Governor once again noted that, in order to curb the high number of younger West Virginians who remain unvaccinated, West Virginia is offering a $100 incentive to all residents ages 16-35 who choose to get vaccinated.
Additionally Monday, Gov. Justice reported that West Virginia’s general revenue collections for the month of April 2021 came in at $1.9 million above estimates and a whopping 38.9% above prior year receipts, despite the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the state’s economy.
West Virginia has now banked surpluses in four consecutive months and nine of the first 10 months of Fiscal Year 2021. Gov. Justice reported that year-to-date general revenue collections are $237.3 million above estimates and 8.4% above prior year receipts.
“Just think about it – a $237 million surplus so far this year – that’s wonderful news, West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “Congratulations to all those that put in the licks to make that happen every day in West Virginia, especially our businesses, our workers all across this great state, and our team at the Department of Revenue.”
Total General Revenue Fund collections for the month of April were nearly $539.8 million.
Year-to-date collections have totaled more than $4.001 billion; $309.4 million above prior year receipts.
Additionally Monday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now eight active church-related outbreaks in West Virginia, up from seven such outbreaks as of his previous COVID-19 briefing on Friday last week. The active outbreaks are located in Berkeley, Grant, Greenbrier, Hardy, Jackson, Nicholas, and Ritchie counties and account for a total of 88 cases, up from 85 such cases on Friday last week.
There are now 16 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state, down from 17 such outbreaks as of Friday last week.
The governor also reported that there are now 26 inmate cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) system, down from 39 such cases last week. Meanwhile, there are now five active staff cases across the DCR system, down from seven last week.
Additionally Monday, Gov. Justice provided a reminder that his Statewide Indoor Face Covering Requirement remains in effect.
All West Virginians age 9 and older must wear a face covering at all times inside all indoor public places, regardless of whether or not they are able to maintain proper social distance.
The requirement does not apply to anyone who has trouble breathing or is otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance, anyone who is at a restaurant and actively consuming food or drink, anyone alone in a closed or physically distanced room, or anyone actively engaged in physical activity indoors.
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice provided an overview of the 51 counties across the state that currently have free testing events scheduled through the Governor’s Aggressive Testing initiative.
This testing is available to all residents, including asymptomatic individuals. Proof of insurance is not required. Attendees should bring identification, such as a driver’s license or proof of address, to help in returning test results. Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Locally free testing dates, times and locations are:
Fruth Pharmacy, drive-thru, 2501 Jackson Avenue, Point Pleasant, available Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Sunday noon – 6 p.m.
Old Goodwill Store, 303 3rd Street, Point Pleasant, May 11, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m; May 18, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m; May 25, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m; pre-registration: https://wv.getmycovidresult.com/
Information for this article provided by the office of Gov. Jim Justice and WVstateparks.com.