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Justice: Don’t forget about COVID-19

CHARLESTON — As summertime activities and vacations bring more people out and about, Gov. Jim Justice warned West Virginians to not take possible COVID-19 infections for granted, encouraging vaccinations and boosters.

“I know the sun is shining and I know it’s summertime … but all that being said, from Jim Justice to you, as somebody I truly treasure, I love all of you and I want goodness for all of you,” Justice said during his first-of-the-week COVID-19 briefing Tuesday at the Capitol.

“I would say to you there is nothing more important today than going to get that booster shot if you’re out of the timeframe and you do not have any of the immunities and you got vaccinated. Please,” Justice continued.

According to the state Department of Health and Human Resources, there were 2,150 active COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, down by 16 percent from 2,565 active cases Friday. Justice said there were 1,995 new COVID-19 cases in the state since Friday, but that number only includes positive tests reported to DHHR and not the results of home testing.

“We’ve had 1,995 new positive cases that we know about in West Virginia today,” Justice said. “I just said ‘that we know about,’ because a lot of people have these home test kits and everything that we may not know about.”

According to DHHR, 57.8 percent of eligible West Virginians over the age of 5 have been fully vaccinated with either the two-dose vaccine regimen or the single-dose shot. But only 53 percent of those over the age of 5 who are fully vaccinated have received a booster vaccine dose.

“How smart is it when we’re sitting here telling you over and over and over that this isn’t gone and this is highly contagious, how smart is it to have been vaccinated and not get your booster shot? It’s not very smart, because your immunity for all practical purposes is gone. You’re just winging it,” Justice said.

James Hoyer, the leader of the state’s joint interagency vaccine task force, encouraged West Virginians confused about when to seek a second dose or their first and second booster shots to visit coronavirus.wv.gov and use the COVID-19 Vaccination Due Date Calculator. Hoyer said the calculator has been used more than 400,000 times.

“We continue to have great success with our vaccine calculator,” Hoyer said. “The calculator is tending to pick up a lot of momentum; people using it to update the most important things of not just first doses — which we do continues to see a small trend in that direction – but more importantly … our over-50 booster shots. If you look at our data, we still have a good uptake of vaccines for people aged 50 and above.”

Justice admitted that he was being repetitive about vaccines and boosters weekly, but he said he would keep pushing the message of more shots and boosters.

“I’m going to keep trying as long as God gives me breath,” Justice said.

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