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Justice talks reducing restrictions

W.Va. governor signals that easing pandemic guidelines may be on horizon

Justice

CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice may discuss easing pandemic restrictions on schools and businesses in West Virginia later this week, he announced during Wednesday’s COVID-19 briefing.

Justice also announced additional dosages of the COVID vaccines will be arriving in the state next week and changes to the state coronavirus information dashboard to include a by-county total of dosages administered.

State officials have been meeting with pandemic teams and school superintendents and will continue to meet today, Justice said. He hopes to provide an update about ideas to lessen the restrictions on businesses and schools at the Friday COVID-19 briefing.

“I think we can move in that direction now and on Friday I’ll be releasing more information on that to back off restrictions, maybe on our restaurants you know and to some degree and absolutely from the standpoint of this blended schedule and things like that that we’re working on with our school systems,” Justice said.

The initial vaccine dosages for West Virginia was 23,600, which recently increased to around 33,000 and will increase by about another 7,000 to 40,600 total doses, James Hoyer, head of the state interagency task force for vaccinations, said.

“We continue to see steady progress and growth,” said Hoyer, a former commanding general of the West Virginia National Guard.

State officials, encouraged by how well the vaccine distribution has been in West Virginia, have been requesting additional dosages, the governor said.

“As the governor pointed out, he continues to press daily, we continue to press as his leadership and our congressional delegation has been very helpful in pressing as well,” Hoyer said.

The addition of county vaccination information to the dashboard was announced Wednesday by Bill Crouch, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources. The breakdown will include a map, total dosages by county and the age groups of dosages administered.

“We have tried to make it very intuitive, very much like the previous map or other map on the dashboard,” Crouch said.

Among other news on Wednesday, Justice cited the reduction of inmate infections of the virus from 43 on Monday to 20 on Wednesday with 12 at the North Central Regional Jail and the others scattered around other facilities and three staff cases.

“We cut it in half since Monday, but 43 is almost nothing,” Justice said.

(Mancini can be contacted at jmancini@newsandsentinel.com)

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