Governor is ‘very ill’ and being treated for covid-19

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice’s case of covid-19 is serious, his chief of staff said today.

Brian Abraham

“He’s not doing well. He’s very ill. He continues to suffer, as I can hear through the phone, severe congestion. He still has elevated blood pressure. He’s uncomfortable,” Brian Abraham, the chief of staff, said today on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”

“He’s received the monoclonal treatment. He has medical care being provided to him, so we’re hoping for a positive outcome. He’s a tough guy.”

The Governor’s Office announced Justice’s covid case near midnight, touching off a day that resulted in cancellation of the annual State of the State address. Several major economic development announcements went on without the governor’s participation.

“This was going to be a huge day,” Abraham said.

Justice, 70, is being treated at home, “and the medical care providers are there with him now,” Abraham said. “You can tell he’s not doing well.”

Justice said in the midnight statement that he was feeling “extremely unwell at this point.”

Justice is fully vaccinated, and he has received a booster dose. The Governor’s Office late Tuesday announced Justice opted to get tested after experiencing “the sudden onset of symptoms,” including congestion and coughing.

An initial rapid test produced a negative result, “but by the late afternoon, my symptoms were still getting much worse. My blood pressure and heart rate were extremely elevated, and I had a high fever. Finally, my PCR test results this evening confirmed I was positive.

“Because of all this, I began receiving my antibody treatment and I hope this will lessen these symptoms.”

Dr. Clay Marsh

Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s top covid-19 adviser, and several physicians are treating Justice. Marsh noted Justice made the right decision by getting tested after noticing symptoms.

“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,” Marsh said.

“Without the immunity afforded by those vaccines, his outcome could be much worse. I continue to strongly encourage all West Virginians to take the COVID-19 vaccine and get boosted when it’s time to do so. Everyone is susceptible to this infection, and with cases in the U.S. and in West Virginia at all-time highs, there has never been a more important time to get yourself and your family vaccinated.”

Justice was scheduled to give his State of the State address Wednesday evening at the state Capitol. The West Virginia Legislature will instead receive a written copy of the address, along with his budget proposal, to satisfy constitutional requirements. According to his office, Justice will deliver an address to lawmakers at a later date.

Justice was also scheduled to take part in an announcement regarding an economic development project in West Virginia. State officials announced the project without the governor.

“For this to happen just one night before the State of the State – knowing I won’t be able to be there – saddens me. There are so many great things happening in West Virginia right now. Tomorrow, even though I won’t be there, we are going to showcase what we’ve accomplished with economic development in West Virginia. We are on a rocket ship ride and the world is finally waking up to it,” the governor said. “But, because of this pandemic, we all must adjust and realize that our lives aren’t the same as they were a few short years ago.”

Officials additionally canceled a coronavirus briefing scheduled for Wednesday.

“I’ll be back in front of you in-person before you know it. I thank everyone who has offered their thoughts and prayers and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone soon,” Justice said.

The state Legislature is set to begin its regular 60-day session on Wednesday.

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