Governor updates on boosters, latest COVID stats

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Jan. 21—CHARLESTON — With the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continuing to spread across the state and the country, during a press briefing, Gov. Jim Justice once again Friday urged all West Virginians to get vaccinated or get their booster shot as soon as possible, according to a news release from the governor's office.

"I'll never understand the logic of those who made the decision to get the full first round of their vaccination, but then haven't gotten the booster. If it's been long enough, you're basically walking around as if you had never been vaccinated at all," Gov. Justice said. "What in the world are you waiting on?"

"Getting vaccinated or getting boosted stacks the deck to keep you out of the hospital — I'm living proof," added Gov. Justice, referencing his recovery after a recent bout with COVID-19. "With how fast this thing is running now, if you don't get your booster because you just don't feel like it, you're making a real mistake."

The Governor went on to report that there were 16,742 active cases of COVID-19 and 952 COVID-related hospitalizations statewide. On Friday West Virginia County Alert Map featured 54 of the state's 55 counties in either the Red or Orange categories — denoting the highest level of spread.

"Our map, for all practical purposes, is completely Red and Orange. I can't recall seeing it any worse than that," Gov. Justice said. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to look at that map and say, 'If I'm not boosted, I need to go get my booster shot.' Because it doesn't look good."

Booster shots are now authorized and encouraged for all West Virginians ages 12 and older.

COVID-19 booster shots are available, for free, to all eligible West Virginians. The waiting period for those who received initial series Pfizer shots has been shortened to five months.

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 Friday, Gov. Justice offered a reminder to all West Virginians that the federal government is now offering every household in America four free at-home COVID-19 tests.

"Please take advantage of this opportunity to get yourself some free tests for your home and use them if you or your family feel sick," Gov. Justice said. "The more we test, the more we know. And the more we know, the better we can react."

To get your free at-home COVID tests, visit COVIDtests.gov. (OVP Editor's note: For those who are unable to order online, a phone number has been added to access the free tests — 1-800-232-0233 or TTY 1-888-720-7489.)

Additionally, Gov. Justice provided another update on the West Virginia National Guard's mission to provide staffing support to hospitals throughout the state.

As of Friday morning, 121 Guard members have been authorized to deploy to 16 facilities across West Virginia.

"Our National Guard has stepped up and they have absolutely been assisting in our understaffed hospitals and helping us every day," Gov. Justice said. "We thank these men and women for all they do for our great state."

Gov. Justice also took time to announce that he will deliver his sixth State of the State address on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, at 7 p.m.

This address will supplement the Governor's written State of the State message, which was delivered to the West Virginia Legislature on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, to formally satisfy his constitutional requirement to give to the Legislature information by message of the condition of the state at the commencement of the legislative session. The prior night, Gov. Justice announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and would have no choice but to postpone his traditional in-person address to a later date.

"We actually made history because it was the first instance, in modern times, that a governor has submitted a letter as his State of the State," Gov. Justice said. "But it certainly wasn't by choice. I wanted to be there so bad, it was unbelievable. Can you imagine the odds of that happening the day before the State of the State?

"So this year has been a bit modified, but I do feel an obligation to come in and deliver that message because the State of West Virginia is really cooking," Gov. Justice continued. "We are doing great and there are so many people that need to be thanked. And I also want to tell you about all the ways we're going to make West Virginia even better.

"I promised you a rocket ship ride. Well, the rocket is on the move right now. It's really fun, and things are just going to get better and better."

The address will be broadcast live on the West Virginia Public Broadcasting Channel. Find your television station here (Use column labeled "WVPB").

Audio from the address will be broadcast live on West Virginia Public Radio. The address will also be livestreamed on the Governor's social media channels: YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Information provided by the office of Gov. Jim Justice.

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