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Governor Justice after bout with covid: ‘I’m a lot better today’

Gov. Jim Justice says he is feeling much better after being laid flat by covid-19.

“I’m a lot better today. I know I’m not sounding that great,” a hoarse Justice said today on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”

He added, “This is not anything to play around with.”

The governor has been recovering at home in Lewisburg and noted that he is not supposed to be around other people yet. But he said he expects to return to the state Capitol by Monday.

“It’s driving me crazy being around the house to tell you the truth,” he said.

Justice was diagnosed with covid-19 on Tuesday, and early updates from the Governor’s Office described him as feeling “extremely unwell.” 

The governor credited his vaccination and booster — along with monoclonal antibody treatment — with ensuring his symptoms were less severe than the would have been.

“Governor Justice didn’t end up in the hospital, Governor Justice didn’t end up in the ICU unit or whatever. There’s no question as tough as this was or is, it’s nothing to fool around with,” the governor said.

Justice has promoted vaccination and booster shots through his regular statewide briefings. He has maintained those are personal choices and should not be mandated.

West Virginia’s vaccination rate remains relatively low; about 55 percent of the vaccine-eligible population, ages 5 and older, is considered fully-vaccinated. Just 38 percent of those fully-vaccinated people have received boosters.

The vaccination rate places West Virginia among the bottom third of states. 

“I could never encourage people more to get vaccinated,” he said. “For crying out loud, if I hadn’t been vaccinated, I’d have been in really, really bad shape.”

On Tuesday, Justice started experiencing congestion, coughing and a headache. An initial rapid test produced a negative result.

I thought, ‘Well I’m fine’ and by 5 o’clock I was sick,” Justice said.

His blood pressure and heart rate were extremely elevated, and Justice ran a high fever. A more reliable PCR test then confirmed he was positive.

Justice said the illness was like “something like I’ve never experienced. It was something that came on really fast.”

He received monoclonal antibody treatment about 11 p.m. Tuesday and started feeling somewhat better by Thursday.

The governor missed his annual State of the State Address, which he submitted to the Legislature in writing instead. He also missed a series of splashy economic development announcements.

But he expressed thanks for those who wished him a speedy recovery.

“I really do thank everybody for their prayers, thoughts and well wishes,” he said.

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