MORGANTOWN — Gov. Jim Justice held a brief COVID-19 press conference Friday morning, shortened to accommodate another press conference at noon to announce statewide funding for broadband.
Justice read in another 110 COVID deaths in the state, 31 of which were part of the government’s continuing data reconciliation with official death certificates. These deaths brings the state’s total to 4,108. While other key statistics trend down, deaths seem to be rising.
“The deaths are going to continue for a while. We are through the peak of this surge, but we’re not through this surge. This is going to take several more weeks,” West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Bill Crouch said. “They are the final indicator that we are getting through this surge, when they start dropping.”
One question directed at coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh asked if there was a family connection to explain why some people have more severe reactions to COVID-19.
“There are some inherited abnormalities in immune function, particularly related to certain types of factors our bodies make, one called interferon-gamma that appears to be important in our ability to take care of COVID-19,” he said. Marsh went on to emphasize the importance of full vaccination in reducing severe illness.
Like Wednesday, much of Justice’s commentary during the press conference was devoted to the vaccine mandate exemption bill added to the legislation’s special session. Asked about his motivation in pursuing the bill, Justice said it was about fairness and unity.
“I don’t believe we should just throw our freedoms and our rights in the trash can,” Justice said. “Someone that genuinely has a medical or religious objection to this, that someone is not going to be the catalyst that’s going to cause more and more issues. That someone should not be terminated from their employment because they believe in this strong enough.”
Justice ended the press conference holding up a chart that showed the disparity between vaccinated and unvaccinated deaths in West Virginia. 92.5% of COVID-19 deaths in West Virginia are unvaccinated; 7.5% are vaccinated.
“We’ve got to get you vaccinated. It is so important. Please, please consider it,” Justice said.