Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia has tested positive for the coronavirus and is feeling “extremely unwell,” his office announced on Tuesday night.
The governor is vaccinated, boosted, but his office said that he woke up Tuesday feeling congested and soon developed headaches and fever. He took a rapid test that gave a negative result, but his symptoms worsened, including a high fever and what Mr. Justice described as “extremely elevated” blood pressure and heart rate. The governor ordered him to undergo a P.C.R. test on Tuesday evening, and when that test came back positive, he began receiving a course of monoclonal antibody treatment, the governor’s office said.
The statement did no indicate which variant of virus Mr. Justice, a Republican had. Monoclonal antibody treatments that were used before the Omicron variant was discovered are ineffective against the virus. Omicron is in short supply in the United States.
“I have full confidence that Governor Justice will recover quickly, and it’s because he chose to receive the Covid-19 vaccine and his booster shot,” Dr. Clay Marsh, the dean of health sciences at West Virginia University and the state’s coronavirus czar, said in the statement. “Without the immunity afforded by those vaccines, his outcome could be much worse.”
The positive test result was received just before the governor was scheduled for the annual State of the State address to the West Virginia legislature. This address will now be delivered in written format.
“While I was surprised that my test results came back positive, I’m thankful to the Lord above that I’ve been vaccinated, I’ve been boosted, and that I have an incredible support system, especially my loving family,” Mr. Justice said.
Though West Virginia set up a sweepstakes to encourage vaccinations, revolving around Mr. Justice’s pet Baby Dog, the state lags much of the country, with only a little more than half the population fully vaccinated. In the last two weeks, West Virginia has seen an increase in new cases per day that is nearly tripled. This is more than any time during the pandemic. Nearly one fifth of the coronavirus tests sent to West Virginia are positive.
The surge has put a strain on hospital staffing. The West Virginia National Guard is training to assist in hospitals with severe staff shortages. Covid-19 has claimed the lives of 5,452 West Virginians since the pandemic started.
Source: NY Times