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W.Va. officials appeal to patriotism in vaccine effort

Contributed JUSTICE — Gov. Jim Justice on Monday asked West Virginians to step up like America did in World War II and get vaccinated against the COVID-19 coronavirus.

CHARLESTON — State officials Monday encouraged unvaccinated residents to step up like the generation of Americans during World War II and get immunized against COVID-19.

James Hoyer, director of the Joint Interagency Task Force on Vaccine and the retired general of the West Virginia National Guard, referenced the sacrifices made by the Greatest Generation during World War II and pointed out that in the last 14 months, 160,000 more people died from the coronavirus than all the Americans killed during the war in four years. About 596,000 people have died from the pandemic.

“Nobody is trying to infringe upon anybody’s rights,” Hoyer said. “What we are asking you to do is take on the responsibility that that generation took on and get a vaccine to protect you and more importantly protect the people around you and your community.”

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice on Friday said the mask mandate will be lifted on June 20, West Virginia’s 158th birthday, upon the state reaching or nearing a goal of 65 percent of residents 12 and older getting at least one shot of the vaccine.

The state is vaccinating residents 16 and older, and the Food and Drug Administration this week is expected to OK the emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for those ages 12 to 15.

“Many, many, many of you out there can still remember what was going on in World War II,” Justice said on Monday. “If you don’t remember from life itself, you can remember from the history books how everybody stepped up. All those who went to war. All those who left their homes and their families. All the moms who stepped up, trying to make clothes, for any and everything.”

West Virginia stepped up and dug the coal to make steel that made tanks, he said.

“We stepped up, America. We stepped up because we were threatened in this country to lose the very values that we all had. Now just think of how that generation just stepped up at a time, at a time that we needed them so badly. Just think, all we’re asking you to do, because we have more dead than we lost in all that war. All that we’re asking you to do to stop this war is go get vaccinated. Protect yourself. Protect those around you.

“Absolutely be a patriot. Be a patriot like all those who came before you,” Justice said.

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

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