As we enter into Thanksgiving week, West Virginia’s coronavirus numbers continue to climb. Gov. Jim Justice in his latest virtual press briefing called on West Virginians to consider making changes to their Thanksgiving celebrations this year.
“It would be much, much better if you were with the family members that you’re with all the time,” Justice said. “We absolutely depend on you to be making good decisions that will just not make this situation worse and worse for your family and worse for all those you love the most.”
State health officials also urged residents not to travel.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources reports since the start of the pandemic, more than 41,000 West Virginians have contracted the virus. Since Friday, more than 2,600 new cases have been identified, and there are more than 13,600 cases considered active.
More than 460 people are hospitalized, 136 people are in intensive care, and 60 people are on ventilators. More than 660 West Virginians have died.
“In West Virginia, we’re approaching 1,000 COVID cases per day,” said Coronavirus Czar Clay Marsh during the governor’s briefing. “What that tells us is that despite all the testing, and despite all the contact tracing, that in some areas, COVID is spreading fast enough that perhaps you know, some focused and precise strategies will need to be done.”
Marsh said these strategies, regarding any new mandates or restrictions, would need to come from the governor. While the governor has said he will not shut the state down, he has also said “anything is on the table” to try and mitigate the spread of the disease, depending on how bad it gets.
Justice, in his Monday press briefing, also recognized Maj. General James Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard, who after 40 years is retiring.
Hoyer is well known for his military service and his leadership when responding to the 2016 flood that devastated parts of West Virginia and killed 23 people.
Hoyer served as adjutant general for the past 10 years, and will continue to serve the state in a new role with West Virginia University.
“I felt it would be most appropriate to come to [Justice] and say, I think it’s time for me to go ahead and step out of uniform,” Hoyer said. “Let somebody else focus on taking care of the soldiers and airmen of the guard day-to-day, so I can focus with you on pandemic response and vaccine distribution and those economic development opportunities.”
The governor said Hoyer has accepted the position of senior associate vice president at WVU, where he will continue on the governor’s COVID-19 advisory team and vaccination response. He will also continue working on economic development ventures such as Virgin Hyperloop.
“He has, and continues to be, a great friend, a great leader, a great person for the state of West Virginia,” Justice said. “Cathy and I are excited for him and Amy and their entire family as they enter a new chapter, and our general continues to serve me in this great state, and I could not be happier, could not be more honored.”
Justice appointed Brig. Gen. Bill Crane to serve as the new adjutant general in the West Virginia National Guard. Crane will take up the position on Jan. 4.