Governor updates on Omicron, National Guard training


Staff Report



CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice and members of the West Virginia COVID-19 pandemic response leadership team held another news briefing Tuesday to update the public on the State’s latest pandemic response efforts.

A news release from the governor’s office about the briefing stated, “With 79 cases of the Omicron variant now confirmed in West Virginia, and much more expected in the weeks ahead, Gov. Jim Justice urged West Virginians Tuesday to avoid becoming complacent in the fight against COVID-19.”

“We cannot afford to become numb to this,” Gov. Justice said. “We can’t become numb about the folks that we’ve lost. We can’t become numb that we have more people in our hospitals.

“We’ve got to keep battling. We’ve got to keep striving to make this thing go away, Gov. Justice continued. “We can’t accept mediocrity. We’ve never done that as Americans. Our refusal to accept mediocrity is what’s made America the beacon of the whole world.

“Why would we sit back now and just become numb to the fact that we’re going to lose 25 to 100 folks every day, and just accept that. Are you kidding me? That’s not America. That’s not us.”

Gov. Justice also announced that, beginning this weekend, the West Virginia National Guard will have 37 combat medics undergoing recertification training.

“This is an annual requirement, and it comes at a pivotal time when the Guard and our COVID Task Force are looking at any potential need in our local hospitals,” Gov. Justice said. “I have authorized the National Guard to build out to 600 personnel on our COVID-19 Task Force and they are currently working to identify any additional medical assets who can assist, if there is a need. We have also identified teams of Liaison Officers to go to hospitals to assess needs, if requested.”

The WVNG will be conducting training of more than 350 personnel to ensure that there are enough available to deploy to hospitals if requested.

“We’re not going to be numb here either,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve got the National Guard on high alert, deploying, trying to make sure our hospitals aren’t overrun.”

Gov. Justice also announced that booster shots will soon be authorized for all Americans 12 and older.

While the CDC still needs to give final approval, yesterday the FDA authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster shot for those ages 12 to 15. The FDA also shortened the waiting period to get the Pfizer booster from six months after receiving the initial series of shots to five months.

Additionally, the FDA has approved and is encouraging booster doses for all Americans over 12 years old.

A booster dose is also recommended if at least two months have passed since you received your initial one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

COVID-19 booster shots are available, for free, to all eligible West Virginians (CDC eligibility guidelines).

West Virginians can go to any location offering COVID-19 vaccines with their vaccination card to receive their booster.

If your card has been lost, you can request a new one from the DHHR.

Initial series vaccinations are available, for free, for everyone ages 5 and older.

West Virginians interested in being vaccinated or having their children vaccinated are encouraged to visit Vaccinate.wv.gov or call the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965.

Also on Tuesday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to announce that West Virginia’s General Revenue collections for December 2021 came in at $506.8 million –“a staggering $124.4 million above estimate and 32.6% ahead of prior year receipts,” stated the news release.

This revenue growth rate was the highest on-record for the month of December in West Virginia since at least the 1970s.

“Considering how far behind we were when I walked in the door, who would have ever thought we would have these kinds of numbers,” Gov. Justice said. “But we’re doing it. There are so many folks that are responsible for this goodness. We all jumped in and pulled the rope together.”

Now halfway through Fiscal Year 2022, year-to-date collections of nearly $2.518 billion are $393.9 million above the YTD estimate.

“West Virginia is becoming known around the globe as the diamond in the rough that everybody missed,” Gov. Justice continued. “We should celebrate the moment, and then we should strive to do even better.”

Information provided by the office of Gov. Jim Justice.

Staff Report