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Daily positivity spikes at 16.4%, vaccine dispersion continues

Justice and team explain unemployment benefits extension in COVID relief legislation

MORGANTOWN — As of Monday, the state had received 60,875 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and administered 30,737, according to the Department of Health and Human Resources.

Gov. Jim Justice said they expect another 25,925 – combined from Pfizer and Moderna – this week, and they hoped to complete the first round of vaccinations at all 214 long-term care facilities by Monday.

DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch again addressed the issue of antibody treatments for elderly residents who development symptoms and seek timely, early care. He clarified that the federal government is providing the antibody medication at no cost to the state, though the patient may have to the usual provider and facility costs associated with seeking treatment.

Justice and WorkForce West Virginia Director Scott Adkins unfolded some points of the COVID relief package President Trump signed into law as part of $2.3 trillion omnibus spending bill to keep government running.

Justice forst complained again about the months Congress wasted since CARES before passing another relief package, and about the pork that invariably gets stuffed into an omnibus spending bill.

“For D.C. and these people … don’t you just think that we can not do better than what we’re doing, he said. “Why in the wold have we had so many people hurting for so long? … We’ve got too many people and too many businesses still hurting.”

The COVID portion includes no funding for state and local governments. As previously reported, that portion of the package was withdrawn along with liability protection provisions. Both were subjects of disagreement and set aside to let the rest of the package progress.

The bill does include extension of pandemic unemployment benefits, which expired Saturday.

Adkins said three programs – Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – were all extended for 11 weeks, to March 13.

FPUC provides an additional $300 per week on top of regular benefits. PUA is for the self-employed and independent contractors, who will also receive FPUC payments. Residents just need to keep filing their weekly certifications, Adkins said. For questions, call 800-252-JOBS (5627).

Adkins said the state is awaiting U.S. Department of Labor guidance on details of the program extensions.

Justice encouraged unemployed residents to file. Those who fell through the cracks the first time around should try again, and those whose benefits expired should apply again to keep them coming.

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