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Justice stresses vaccinations at Coalton stop

The Inter-Mountain photo by Edgar Kelley Coalton Mayor Jim Rossi fist-bumps Gov. Jim Justice Tuesday during Justice’s visit to Coalton. Both men wore masks and fist-bumped rather than shaking hands, in acknowledgment of COVID-19.

COALTON — While making a quick stop in Coalton this week, Gov. Jim Justice spoke to a large crowd at St. Patrick Church’s Parish Hall about the importance of all West Virginians being vaccinated against COVID-19.

The governor, who was in town to present the city with a $3.3 million Abandoned Mine Land Grant that will go toward major improvements to the town’s water system, spent a good portion of his time Tuesday talking about the coronavirus.

“This country has too much divide going on right now, and we’ve got too many serious, serious issues,” Justice told those gathered in Coalton. “If you haven’t been vaccinated, you need to do so. And absolutely, with all in me, I would tell you that just because you may think, ‘well, by God, I ain’t doing it,’ you know that’s really not only exposing yourself but it’s really exposing all of us.”

Justice, who coaches girls basketball at Greenbrier East High School, talked about how the vaccine may have saved his life and his coaching staff’s lives as well this season.

“A day after playing Princeton in our sectional, we have a kid test positive for COVID,” Justice said. “And then the very next day another. Then the next Wednesday we had five more test positive. You had a 70-year-old coach, a 77-year-old assistant coach, and a 79-year old assistant coach. What if we hadn’t been vaccinated? None of us (coaches) got it and without any question, the odds are you would have lost one of us, you may have even lost the governor.”

Although most of the state’s COVID-19 numbers have held steady during the past months, some areas like Randolph County have seen an increase in recent weeks. After flirting with single digits in mid-March, Randolph County’s total active case numbers have continuously surged in the wrong direction and stand at 26 this week. There were 7,140 active cases reported in the state this week.

“This thing can whiplash again on us and it would be really bad,” Justice said. “We’ve got it beat, we’ve got it on the run. But we are going to have to make sure that people in the community help one another to get us all the way across the finish line.”

Justice said vaccinations are the key, and he is pulling out all stops in an attempt to give everyone in the Mountain State a shot in the arm. He said he is currently working on some new initiatives aimed at convincing those who haven’t been vaccinated to do so.

“A reporter from the Washington Post asked me the other day what I had to say to those who don’t believe in what I’m talking about here and that it’s not going to work,” Justice recalled. “I said, as far as I’m concerned they can kiss my butt. Because really and truly, I am absolutely going to first and foremost, do all I possibly can to look after you, to look after West Virginia.”

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