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Gov. Justice continues to urge boosters; celebrates extension of federal support for National Guard pandemic response

Governor also announces West Virginia National Guard to provide Ukraine military with armored vehicles
CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice and members of the West Virginia COVID-19 pandemic response leadership team held another news briefing today to update the public on the state’s latest pandemic response and vaccine distribution efforts.
CASE NUMBERS & VACCINE/BOOSTER INFO
On Friday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now just 544 active cases of COVID-19 statewide.

Over the past three months, total active cases have decreased by 97.5%.

COVID-19 Dashboard | Coronavirus.wv.gov

Since nearing peak capacity in early February, COVID-related hospitalizations in West Virginia are down 92.2%, ICU patients are down 91.2%, and patients on ventilators are down 92.8%.
An updated breakdown of the West Virginia County Alert Map is as follows:
Red (0) | Orange (0) Gold (0) | Yellow (2) | Green (53)
Still, after reading the ages and locations of another 19 individuals who have passed away from COVID-19 since Tuesday, Gov. Justice continued to urge West Virginians to get vaccinated and boosted.

“Walking around unprotected is not wise,” Gov. Justice said. “If you are over the age of 50 are you are more than four months out from your first booster shot, you need to go get your second booster shot. We don’t want to lose any more of our people.”
WATCH FULL BRIEFING
All West Virginians ages 5 and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. After the primary series, first booster shots are recommended for those ages 12 and older.

Second booster shots have now been authorized by the FDA and recommended by the CDC for those ages 50 and over who are also at least four months removed from their first booster dose, as well as certain younger immunocompromised individuals ages 12 and older.

All West Virginians who qualify can immediately get this dose anywhere vaccines are available.

The state’s new COVID-19 Vaccination Due Date Calculator has been updated to determine whether people are eligible for a second booster dose.

Read more about vaccines at Vaccinate.wv.gov and at CDC.gov.
FIND A VACCINE NEAR YOU
GOV. JUSTICE CELEBRATES EXTENSION OF FEDERAL SUPPORT OF NATIONAL GUARD PANDEMIC RESPONSE
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice celebrated the recent news that President Joe Biden has extended 502(f) federal support for the National Guard, which will allow the West Virginia National Guard to continue assisting in the state’s response to COVID-19 through the end of September.

“We’re thankful for this because our great National Guardsmen and women need to be paid for all they do for us every day, especially when it comes to their heroic response to the COVID pandemic and how they continue to run to the fire whenever we need them,” Gov. Justice said.
GOVERNOR APPROVES OVER $5.7 MILLION IN FEDERAL GRANT FUNDING FOR PROJECTS TO COMBAT COVID-19
Gov. Justice also announced that earlier this week he approved over $5.7 million in Community Development Block Grant-CARES funding (CDBG-CV) for four projects to combat COVID-19 in Hampshire and Mineral counties.

“I congratulate all the recipients of this important grant funding,” Gov. Justice said. “We need to remain on our toes to continue our response to this dreaded killer. Even though our numbers are significantly down, this thing has shown it can whiplash back around on us very quickly. So we always need to be working to prepare.”

Funded activities include public health service projects and expanding the ability of community health facilities to address the coronavirus pandemic.

Click here to view recipients / read more
COVID-19 RESOURCES WV Homeowners Rescue Program
Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program

Vaccination Due Date Calculator (Vaccinate.wv.gov) COVID-19 Dashboard (Coronavirus.wv.gov)

Job Jumpstart Program
West Virginia Nursing Workforce Expansion Program
WV Testing Locations Map

Free At-Home COVID Tests (COVIDtests.gov)

Executive Orders & Other Actions

Donate Blood & Plasma (American Red Cross)
GOV. JUSTICE ANNOUNCES WV NATIONAL GUARD TO PROVIDE UKRAINE MILITARY WITH ARMORED VEHICLES
Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to announce that the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) will aid Ukraine by providing armored personnel carriers for use against continued Russian aggression.

Following a request from the Department of Defense (DOD), the West Virginia Army National Guard will give an undisclosed number of M-113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) to Ukraine as part of a drawdown of DOD inventories to support the country.

M-113 APCs are used to move Soldiers and equipment across the battlefield while providing protection from small arms fire and the effects of artillery.

“The bottom line is that we have to step up as Americans, because the Ukrainian people are hurting,” Gov. Justice said. “I am incredibly proud to be able to make this commitment. We’re going to move these vehicles as quickly as we possibly can. We hope that this helps a little bit, but we need to be doing everything we can to put a stop to the destruction now.”

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RFP POSTED FOR TOP-TO-BOTTOM ASSESSMENT OF DHHR
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice announced that today a Request For Proposal (RFP) was officially posted, soliciting bids for a consulting contract to provide a top-to-bottom organizational assessment of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR).

The review process would also include the development of a Strategic Plan for the organization of DHHR moving forward.

Last month, Gov. Justice vetoed a bill that would have split DHHR into two different agencies, calling instead for a full agency review, so that inefficiencies can be corrected without jeopardizing any vital support or services for the West Virginians who rely on the DHHR

“We look forward to working with a great firm to do this kind of assessment,” Gov. Justice said. “If we have deficiencies, we’ll correct them, just like I promised. We want to do everything we can do to make all of our organizations better.”

Bids are currently due by May 6, 2022, at 1:30 p.m.
GOV. JUSTICE CELEBRATES COMPLETION OF $5.7 MILLION IN UPGRADES AT NORTH BEND STATE PARK
Gov. Justice also took time to recap his visit earlier in the day to North Bend State Park for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of $5.7 million in upgrades, including a $4.5 million renovation to the park lodge.
Lodge upgrades include renovations to the lodge’s guest rooms, lobby, front desk, gift shop, and restaurant, as well as improvements to the lodge exterior, walkways, guest room corridors, and landscaping.

In addition to the lodge renovations, the North Bend State Park also underwent $500,000 in cabin upgrades and $700,000 in construction for a pair of picnic shelters.

These upgrades represent just a small portion of the $151 million-worth of improvement projects that have been completed or started at every state park and forest in West Virginia since Gov. Justice took office.

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BUCKHANNON ACADEMY ELEMENTARY WELCOMES THERAPY DOG THROUGH FRIENDS WITH PAWS PROGRAM
Gov. Justice also recapped an event earlier in the week at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School in Upshur County. The school hosted a “Pup Rally” to celebrate the arrival of Foster – the state’s newest therapy dog through the Friends With Paws program.

First announced in March, Friends With Paws places certified therapy dogs in several schools across the state, providing companionship and comfort for students in need of a boost.

Following Wednesday’s ceremony, students and staff had the chance to meet and play with Foster, a male Golden Labradoodle.

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