Governor also honors fallen Charleston Police Department Officer Cassie Johnson with prayer and flag order announcement
CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia health leaders and other officials today for his latest daily press briefing regarding the State’s COVID-19 response.
COVID-19 VACCINE INITIAL ALLOCATION PLAN ANNOUNCED
During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice joined state health experts and leaders with the West Virginia National Guard to provide an overview of the state’s initial allocation plan ahead of the upcoming arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The COVID-19 vaccine will protect us from this virus and save lives,” Gov. Justice said. “Based on months of clinical trials, COVID-19 vaccines that have received FDA approval – have met rigorous and scientific standards – will be coming your way.”
Gov. Justice announced that the targeted receipt date for the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine – which was the first vaccine submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization – is Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. However, the Governor pointed out that date is an estimate, dependent upon approval by the FDA, and subject to change.
The Governor announced that West Virginia plans to receive an initial allocation of approximately 60,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, with a weekly ordering cap of about 16,000.
As for the Moderna vaccine – the second vaccine submitted to the FDA for emergency use authorization – the targeted receipt date is expected about one week after the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine. West Virginia plans to receive an initial allocation of approximately 26,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, with a weekly ordering cap of about 3,000-5,000.
The Governor noted that West Virginia’s vaccine allocation may increase through the end of 2020. Vaccine estimates for 2021 are not yet available.
“Clinical trials with tens of thousands of people have demonstrated that the vaccination is highly effective in preventing COVID-19 and caused no serious safety concerns,” Gov. Justice said. “The COVID vaccines will not give you COVID-19.
“Getting yourself vaccinated will improve the health and well-being of our communities and get our economy moving again,” Gov. Justice continued. “Getting vaccinated not only protects you, but the people around you – particularly those at risk of severe COVID-19 illness.”
There will be a limited supply of the COVID-19 vaccine when it first becomes available, so the vaccine will be distributed in phases, based on risk for contracting COVID-19.
In accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, the first-available vaccine doses will be distributed to healthcare workers, long-term care facility staff and residents, individuals critical to community infrastructure and emergency response, public health officials, and first responders.
There are over 100,000 West Virginians who fall into these categories.
The initial allocation of vaccines will be distributed to five hub locations with ultra-cold storage in West Virginia in Berkeley, Cabell, Greenbrier, Kanawha, and Monongalia counties.
Gov. Justice also announced that the plan involves eventually scaling up distribution through additional providers in West Virginia. More than 500 potential sites have currently enrolled to help distribute vaccine doses, and the Governor said that he will be pushing for even more providers, pharmacies, and more to enroll as well.
The supply of vaccine doses will continually increase in the weeks and months to follow. The Governor said his goal is for West Virginians to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as large quantities are available. When the vaccine is available in larger supply, it will become available to the general population.
“It is vital that each of us continues to do their part to prevent the spread of the virus. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools we have available, and the vaccination is just one of those tools. It is important that we all continue to wear our face coverings and keep social distancing.”
The vaccines will require two doses. Gov. Justice added that it is extremely important to receive both doses of the vaccine because, if only one vaccine is received, immunity cannot be guaranteed.
The vaccines are not interchangeable, meaning if you receive the Pfizer product in the first shot, you need to receive Pfizer for the second shot.
Gov. Justice also noted that numbers are subject to change and will be updated on a regular basis in future COVID-19 briefings. The Governor will also announce any additional phases of distribution and additional groups that will receive the vaccine in future briefings.
Additionally, Gov. Justice issued Executive Order 82-20, creating a COVID-19 Joint Interagency Task Force to support all COVID-19 vaccination preparedness, deployment, and delivery related lines of effort.
GOV. JUSTICE THANKS PRESIDENT TRUMP FOR EXTENDING NATIONAL GUARD TITLE 32 ORDERS
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice celebrated yesterday’s announcement by President Donald J. Trump, that he would be extending the National Guard Title 32 orders through March 2021, which will allow the men and women of the West Virginia National Guard to continue their important work helping the State respond to the ongoing pandemic.
“I want to sincerely thank President Trump for this important action,” Gov. Justice said. “I will be sending a letter to the President requesting that the federal government continue to support the West Virginia National Guard in their response to this terrible COVID pandemic.
“These men of women of the Guard have been phenomenal beyond belief, they’re always phenomenal when it really boils right down to it,” Gov. Justice continued. “I’ve seen, over and over, how they have absolutely run to the fire for West Virginians, both before and during this COVID pandemic. To the men and women of the Guard, and the leader of the band, General Hoyer, thank you so much.”
GOV. JUSTICE HONORS FALLEN HERO
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks about COVID-19 to honor the life and legacy of Charleston Police Officer Cassie Johnson, who was shot Tuesday afternoon while responding to a parking complaint.
She passed away yesterday.
During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice called on West Virginians to join him in prayer.
“Dear heavenly Father…we don’t understand losing Cassie Johnson. We don’t understand that level of violence towards people that are heroes, that are trying to help in every way,” Gov. Justice said. “Please throw your arms around her, as I know you have, and hold her really close to your heart, as well as all those we’ve lost, and please throw your arms around all these people’s loved ones.”
Gov. Justice also went on to announce that he intends to order United States and West Virginia flags to half-staff on the day of services celebrating her life and until sunset that same day.
After Friday’s briefing, it was announced that the day of services for Officer Johnson will be Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. The Governor’s flag order will be officially filed Monday and Gov. Justice will provide additional information during his COVID-19 media briefing that day.
The Governor also says he will expedite the West Virginia Emergency Responders Survivor Benefit, which provides a $100,000 payment to the beneficiary of law-enforcement personnel killed in the performance of their emergency response duties.
“It wouldn’t matter if it was $100 million, $100 billion, or $100 trillion, this family would gladly give it up if we could have Cassie back,” Gov. Justice said. “I truly believe she is in a better place than we could ever have here, but I know how much this family hurts. I’m proud that we have things in place like this, but my gosh, I know that’s got to be tough.
“Cassie, we thank you, we love you, and we truly know that you’re a hero in West Virginia forevermore,” Gov. Justice continued.
COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS UPDATE
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice reported that the current number of active cases in the state has also reached a new record high of 17,716. The number of total patients hospitalized also hit a record high of 632, with 169 patients currently in the ICU.
The cumulative percent of positive cases is now 3.76%, up from 3.69% on Wednesday and the highest such rate seen in West Virginia since April 23, 2020.
Meanwhile, as of Friday afternoon, the statewide rate of COVID-19 transmission – also known as Rt – was 1.08; tied for the 24th-best such rate of any state in the country.
FRIDAY MAP UPDATE
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice provided a look at West Virginia’s latest mid-week County Alert System map update.
Red counties: 13 (Barbour, Berkeley, Grant, Hancock, Marshall, Mason, Mineral, Nicholas, Ohio, Wayne, Wirt, Wood, Wyoming)
Orange counties: 13 (Brooke, Cabell, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Logan, Morgan, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Ritchie, Tyler, Wetzel)
Gold counties: 11 (Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Harrison, Jackson, Kanawha, Mingo, Pleasants, Roane, Upshur)
Yellow counties: 8 (Lincoln, Logan, Marion, McDowell, Monongalia, Monroe, Raleigh, Taylor)
Green counties: 10 (Braxton, Gilmer, Greenbrier, Lewis, Mercer, Pendleton, Randolph, Summers, Tucker, Webster)
The map is updated live on the DHHR’s COVID-19 Dashboard (Click “County Alert System” tab) throughout the week for informational purposes and to provide an indication of how each county is trending ahead of each Saturday at 5 p.m.; the time when each county is assigned its official color designation for the next week, which determines the level of scholastic, athletic, and extracurricular activities permitted in each county for that particular week.
DHHR’s COVID-19 Dashboard (Click “County Alert System” tab)
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are 23 active outbreaks in public schools across the state. These outbreaks account for 98 confirmed cases, down from 107 on Wednesday.
West Virginia now has 18 active church-related outbreaks across 14 counties: Berkeley, Braxton, Cabell, Fayette, Harrison, Jackson, Marion, Mineral, Mingo, Nicholas, Raleigh, Taylor, Wood, and Wyoming counties. These outbreaks account for a total of 279 cases, up from 268 on Wednesday.
There are now 113 outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state, up from 110 such outbreaks as of Wednesday.
The Governor also reported that the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) is continuing to see case numbers decrease across several of their facilities. There are now 37 active inmates at the Denmar Correctional Center, down from 58 on Wednesday. There are now six inmate cases at Pruntytown and just one at Parkersburg. Meanwhile, the Northern Correctional Facility and the neighboring regional jail have 79 inmate cases combined.
In total, there are currently 127 active inmate cases and 67 active staff cases across the DCR system, statewide.
UPDATED FACE COVERING REQUIREMENT IN EFFECT; SIGNS AVAILABLE FOR BUSINESSES
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice provided a reminder that his broadened Statewide Indoor Face Covering Requirement remains in effect.
The order requires all West Virginians age 9 and older to 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 order requires that all businesses and organizations that invite the public into their facilities must post adequate signage advising guests of the requirement and are also responsible for enforcing the requirement to ensure it is being followed.
Posters are available on the DHHR’s online Face Covering Toolkit for businesses or organizations to print and display. Social media graphics are also available for download and use by the general public.
AGGRESSIVE TESTING CONTINUES ACROSS STATE
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice provided an overview of the 50 counties that have upcoming free testing events scheduled for the near future 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.
An interactive online map of all free testing locations across West Virginia is available on the state’s COVID-19 website. Users can filter the map by type of testing site, including daily testing events, recurring testing events, and pharmacy testing locations. Each location is marked on the map with a pin. After finding a testing location nearby, users are able to click on the pin for more information about that particular testing site, including the specific location and timeframe during which testing will be held.
WEST VIRGINIANS CALLED UPON TO DONATE BLOOD AND PLASMA
Once again Friday, Gov. Justice encouraged all West Virginians to consider donating blood and plasma through the American Red Cross.
Earlier this week, the Governor reported that in his recent call with the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Vice President Mike Pence said that there is still a shortage of plasma and blood all across the nation.
Those fully recovered from a verified COVID-19 diagnosis may have plasma in their blood containing COVID-19 antibodies that can attack this virus. This plasma is being evaluated as a possible treatment for currently ill COVID-19 patients.
“Think about it; if you have already recovered from COVID, you have been blessed beyond belief,” Gov. Justice said. “Why not take the time to give blood and bless someone else?
“You have already received a blessing from God that’s off the charts. Now we need you. Please give blood.”
For more information, visit redcross.org or call the local American Red Cross offices at 304-340-3650.
CITIES/COUNTIES GRANT FUNDING: OVER $201 MILLION HAS NOW BEEN AWARDED
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice provided an update on cities and counties throughout West Virginia applying for funds through the federal CARES Act, reporting that more than $201 million has now been awarded all across the state.
The total amount of CARES Act funding allocated for these grants has been adjusted from $200 million to $225 million to ensure that all applicants between now and the Dec. 15, 2020, deadline are able to receive all necessary grant funds.
A web portal is available for city and county government officials to apply. Interested parties can also call the helpline: 1-833-94-GRANT.
Each of the recipients of CARES Act funding, along with grant amounts, are now available to view through the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office COVID-19 transparency website.
STATE TREASURER JOHN PERDUE HONORED AS DISTINGUISHED WEST VIRGINIAN AT BOARD OF PUBLIC WORKS MEETING
Additionally, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to announce that today he presented longtime State Treasurer John Perdue with a Distinguished West Virginian award.
The Treasurer was honored with the award at his final Board of Public Works meeting Friday.
“I want to take this moment to again thank John for 23 years as our Treasurer,” Gov. Justice said during Friday’s briefing. “It’s amazing. He was first elected in 1996 and was sworn in in 1997. He served six consecutive terms. He’s a good man that cares an awful lot about West Virginia. All of us should congratulate John Perdue.”
GOVERNOR REMINDS WEST VIRGINIANS OF 2021 HUNTING AND FISHING LICENSE CONTEST
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice took time to offer a reminder that the 2021 Hunting and Fishing License Contest is officially underway.
The Governor announced the contest on Wednesday along with officials from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Anyone who purchases a 2021 Class X, Class XJ, Class XP, Class X3, or Class XP3 license in the month of December will automatically be entered to win one of two grand prizes of a free lifetime license, one of four vacation getaways at a West Virginia state park, or one of eight West Virginia Division of Natural Resources gift bag.
To view prize descriptions, learn how to purchase a license as a gift, or see complete contest rules, visit www.wvdnr.gov/giveaway. The WVDNR reminds West Virginians to follow all hunting, fishing, and trapping regulations and to always practice safety when engaging in outdoor activities.
FLU VACCINE REMINDER
Once again today, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to remind and encourage all West Virginians to get their flu vaccine.
According to health officials, everyone 6 months and older should receive this vaccine.
Locate a flu vaccine near you through the DHHR website.
Click here to view all Executive Orders and other actions taken by Gov. Justice to combat the spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia.
For more information about COVID-19 prevention and more, call the State’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-887-4304 or visit Coronavirus.wv.gov.