Gov. Jim Justice continued to advocate for vaccinations and boosters during a regular COVID-19 briefing that spanned topics from the impacts of recent flooding to the drawn out special legislative session.
After reading out 14 additional COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the state’s rolling total to 7,163 dead Tuesday, Justice renewed his calls for people to get vaccinated and boosted against the virus. His focus was on older residents.
“For crying out loud if you happen to be 50 and older and you’re not getting a booster shot, making a big mistake,” Justice said. “It’s completely silly. It doesn’t make any sense at all if you’re vaccinated that you don’t have your booster shot because if you’re out of the time period and everything you need that booster shot, your immunity is almost nothing.”
With the BA.5 variant now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in West Virginia, and its increased ability to reinfect patients, coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh discussed the developing understanding of the risks of reinfection.
“We are now starting to track that the more times you’ve been infected with COVID-19, the more likely you will be to have long COVID and also to suffer some more important limitations as far as the impact on the vital organs in your body, the heart, the lungs, the kidneys, the liver, etc.” Marsh said. “That is really another important reason to be up to date on vaccinations.”
Hospitalizations, now more than 330, continue to creep up, but the number of ICU cases and patients on ventilators remains comparatively low. Marsh has previously pointed to this as evidence that vaccines are working to protect against severe infection.
Justice discussed the groundbreaking for the Coalfield Expressway yesterday, before his visit to communities in the south of the state impacted by last week’s flooding.
“We need to remember and try with all in us to not just walk away, and I told the folks there we don’t want to put a bandaid on cancer,” Justice said. “I sit right there and listen to all their issues, all their problems that they have going to all their solutions because at the end of the day, those are the folks, not necessarily us in Charleston, that know what needs to be done.”
He then focused on the flooding in eastern Kentucky, calling the devastation “a magnitude even greater than the 2016 flood.” Justice said Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky told him that West Virginia helicopters had aided in the rescue of more than 40 individuals from the floods.
Later in the briefing, Justice responded to a question about his feelings regarding the ongoing special legislative session.
“I’m not going to perpetuate the food fight,” he said before expressing his disappointment in the failure of the legislature to pass his proposed personal income tax cut.
Justice offered up prayers and well wishes for Senate president Craig Blair, who underwent a hip replacement earlier in the day, before moving on to the special session’s other issue of abortion.
“Fifty years this country has surely changed our footprint, and now our Supreme Court has spoken and our laws are old and ancient and they need modernized,” Justice said.
He expressed regret that more hasn’t been accomplished in the special session.