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Justice marks 2-year anniversary of state’s first COVID case, and lowest case number since July 4, 2020

MORGANTOWN — Thursday marked the two-year anniversary of West Virginia’s first COVID-19 cases. Gov. Jim Justice noted the occasion during his Friday COVID briefing with a brief video produced by his staff recalling some of his remarks and urgings along the way — get tested, get masked, get vaccinated — and including clips of a number of his Do It For Babydog prize presentations.

“It’s been a rough two years, hasn’t it,” Justice said after the video, and tragic for many. But, as always, he said, he holds out hope. “We’re too tough in West Virginia. We’re too resilient. We’re going to win the day.”

The death toll reached 6,646, but active cases were only 795, Justice said — the lowest number since July 4, 2020. The state map showed all green except for one county in the center: Braxton.

All the good news, Justice observed, may be de-motivating some to not get vaccinated or boosted. Thursday’s vaccine numbers showed only 97 people getting a shot and the seven-day average trending steadily downward.

“We’ll take the little progress,” Justice said.

Some of the day’s discussion involved the omicron sub-variant BA.2 — nicknamed Stealth — that is spreading around the world. News reports say studies show it may be more transmissible than omicron.

Public Health Commissioner Ayne Amjad said there are only 12 reported Stealth cases in West Virginia right now. While it is spreading in Europe, West Virginia tends to run a couple weeks behind and the best preparation is vaccinations and boosters. “We are completely preparable if you just have your vaccines. Just be ready for anything.”

Justice commented on possible worries about Stealth. “Who really believes that this thing is completely over? … Jim Justice does not think that way.” The best hope we have is that it will become manageable. “For crying out loud, get your booster shots.”

Justice took a question about Dr. Anthony Fauci’s February warning not to lift COVID precautions too soon in light of Stealth’s spread, and how hard he thought it would be to get West Virginians to put their masks back on.

“I would say nearly impossible,” he said.

Amjad agreed. “We’re moving into an era where you’re going to have to use your own personal judgment.”

TWEET David Beard @dbeardtdp