Justice Offers Clarification on Proposed Exemptions Bill; WVU Medicine Already Speaks Out Against Bill

By Chris Johnson on October 13, 2021 via

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice offered a clarification during Wednesday's COVID-19 response press conference on a COVID-19 exemptions bill regarding vaccination mandates that was introduced during an amended special session of the state's legislature. 
According to the governor, the state is not passing a bill that would prohibit private businesses from requiring employees to be vaccinated. The businesses have that right, they however must offer exemptions. 
"I've been rock solid against any kind of statewide mandates," Justice said. "We need to allow our businesses to make those decisions. Any business that mandates, must also offer exemptions for medical or religious reasons. All we are saying is they have to follow the law of the land. This is a common sense law."
Justice also said the exemptions would not apply to vaccines for such things as measles because they have stood the test of time.
Before the press conference had been completed, WVU Medicine issued a statement on the proposed bill.
“WVU Medicine opposes the COVID-19 exemptions bill in its current form. We would urge the Legislature to push the pause button and work with key stakeholders and employers across West Virginia to ensure this bill does not unintentionally derail their efforts to protect their employees and the broader public.”
Wednesday's briefing began by the governor offering his condolences to the families of the most recent COVID-related deaths. There have been 22 since the last press conference bringing the state's total to 3,998.
"Today there is not as many (Justice alluded to a recent press conference when he read 110 deaths), Justice said. "But it's still terrible. Please keep these people in your prayers."
There have been 1,130 new COVID cases reported during the past 24 hours. The state's number of active cases has decreased again slightly down to 9,703 according to the DHHR dasbhoard.
West Virginia's cumulative percent positive rate is at 6.03 and the daily percent positive rate is at 8.20. 
The percentage of vaccine eligible population (12 and over) with at least one dose is at 65.7 percent. The state's fully vaccinated percentage is at 50.1.
There have been 242,077 recoveries and as of Oct. 13 there are 829 hospitalizations, 239 patients in ICUs and 175 patients on a ventilator.
The state's coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh said almost 20 percent of those hospitalized are vaccinated so it is important to take advantage of the availability of the booster shot.
Marsh also provided information on the number of childeren who are currently hospitalized. Six children are currently hospitalized, three are in ICUs and two on ventilators.
The number of red counties on the daily county alert system map is down but there remains 18, including Harrison as well as bordering counties Marion, Taylor and Barbour.
In terns of school outbreaks there are 57 statewide and 577 confirmed cases among students.
The press conference also featured a video wrapping up the second round of the "Do It For Baby Dog" giveaways.
"We put a lot of smiles on faces," Justice said. "We are going to continue encouraging everybody to get vaccinated and get as many people across the finish line as we can."
Video of Wednesday's press conference can be viewed below.

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