West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has said that the state’s Indoor Face Covering Requirement will be lifted on the State’s 158th birthday –also known as West Virginia Day – Sunday, June 20, 2021.
The call was made after consulting with State medical experts regarding vaccination rates, Justice said during a Friday press briefing.
“We believe that all West Virginians 12 years of age and older will be eligible to take the vaccine soon, and by June 20, we project that 65% of all eligible West Virginians will have the first dose at that point in time, 75% of our population that’s 50 and above will have the first dose at that time, and 85% of our population that’s 65 and above will also have the first shot at that time,” Gov. Justice said. “So that’s the date we’re going to go with. It just coincides perfectly with the celebration of this absolutely incredible State on its birthday.”
Justice said people can choose to wear a mask in public, but the state mandate will go away at that time.
In preparing for that shift, the governor called for more people to choose to get a COVID-19 vaccine as a way to protect the general public from a resurgence of the respiratory disease.
“We’re going to call this our ‘Call to Arms’ initiative,” Gov. Justice said. “We need the arms to put shots into. So this is West Virginia’s ‘Call to Arms,’ and we’re go
ing to absolutely target and achieve these things, but we need your help.”
“In our ‘Call to Arms’ program, we are, once again, calling on all West Virginians to help us reach these goals of the percent of our population vaccinated with at least one shot,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, State Coronavirus Czar.
“When you look across the world and look at the countries that are doing the best job of immunizing, particularly Israel, they saw a huge beneficial point of inflection when they got to 60% of their population vaccinated.
“As we target 65% of our vaccine-eligible population with at least one shot, 75% of our over 50-year-old population who’s vaccine eligible with at least one shot, and then 85% of our over 65-year-old population with at least one shot, we believe that we will then have the ability to safely to be able to remove the mask mandate,” Dr. Marsh said. “So it is very important that we all pull the rope together…We have done very well. We’ve been a beacon for the country, and we’ll have one heck of a celebration ready to go on June 20th where, once again, we celebrate our caring and service to each other and to this great state.”
Since last March, the West Virginia DHHR reports that 156,617 state residents have had COVID-19 and 2,729 West Virginians have died from the disease.
The state’s original indoor mask mandate went into effect on July 7, 2020.
In related news, Justice said the state’s vaccine registration system will be phased out as vaccine supplies widen out to pharmacies, health centers and doctors’ offices around the state.
State residents can go to www.vaccinefinder.org to find pharmacy and medical practice locations where they can receive the vaccine.