'You better move W.Va. and move this second," Justice says on vaccinations
{p}West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and state leaders hold a COVID-19 news conference Wednesday. (Sinclair Broadcast Group){/p}

UPDATED, 12:23 p.m. 8/18/21

With coronavirus deaths in West Virginia just three shy of 3,000 and hospitalizations soaring at more than 400, Gov. Jim Justice made an urgent plea for more people to get vaccinated.

“I don’t know how any way on this planet you can hear these numbers and not get vaccinated,” Justice said Wednesday during his coronavirus news conference. “You better move West Virginia and move this second. It’s absolutely here West Virginia.”

Noting that confirmed Delta variant cases in the state now number 458, Justice said the strain of the virus is highly infectious and can be deadly, attacking the young as well as the old. He urged parents and grandparents to get young people vaccinated.

“We know how infectious and deadly this can be, and we know it can affect our kids, too. This variant is not just affecting the old; it’s affecting the young. Parents listen to me - please get your kids vaccinated,” the governor said.

Justice expressed concern about some of the state’s key coronavirus numbers that are rising. The state now has 11 counties in the red on the alert map and 29 in orange.

As far as the mask mandate, Justice said state officials would like to keep it in local control, and he believes it is working in “good fashion.” He said, however, he will pivot if the situation dictates that he needs to do so.

“It’s something we don’t have a playbook for. I’m trying to balance and keep us all together,” he said.

Meanwhile, Justice said the Biden administration has said it will start allowing a third shot of coronavirus on Sept. 20. The governor said that it is good, but it is not soon enough, and West Virginia officials will keep pushing to have the shot available sooner for its population age 60 and over that had a second vaccination shot at least six months ago.

The governor also gave an update on vaccination numbers, saying that 70.1% of those 12 and over who are eligible for the vaccine have now received at least one shot.

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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and state leaders will hold a COVID-19 news conference Wednesday.

The news conference is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and will be shared inside this story once it begins.

On Monday, Gov. Jim Justice warned residents of the looming danger of COVID and urged more to get vaccinated.

"Everybody should listen. We are going to have more people die that is all there is to it with 5,949 active cases," he said Monday.

On Tuesday, active COVID-19 cases in the state passed 7,000.

Justice said 69.9% of those 12 and older who are eligible to be vaccinated in the Mountain State have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

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