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Justice, task force members disagree with Biden, say pandemic is not over

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice and members of his coronavirus tax force agreed Monday that the pandemic has been changing but it’s not yet over.

Their answers came in response to President Joe Biden’s comments during a 60 Minutes interview that aired Sunday night.

President Joe Biden (Adam Schultz/The White House)

“The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with covid. We’re still doing a lot of work on it but the pandemic is over,” Biden said. “If you notice no one is wearing masks and everybody seems to be in pretty good shape.”

Justice described the Biden comments as “crazyland” during his own media briefing on the coronavirus Monday at the state capitol.

“I don’t think the pandemic is over,” Justice said. “I think we can live with this pandemic but the more people we can get across the finish line and get vaccinated the better we’ll be able to live with this pandemic. It’s not over. It’s absolutely not over.”

State Chief Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad said she wouldn’t say the pandemic is over but the situation has gotten much better.

“I would say it’s trending downward or hit a plateau,” Amjad said. “We’re still seeing cases. They are not as severe and we’re not seeing as many hospitalizations or deaths.”

State InterAgency Task Force Director Jim Hoyer said it may be more accurate to call the current situation an endemic, which is more narrow than a pandemic.

“But even in an endemic phase of an event like this there are people that are going to die, there are things that have to be done. There are public health works that have to be done every day and have to be coordinated,” Hoyer said.

The state’s most recent efforts include the rollout of omicron boosters, Hoyer said.

Jim Justice

Gov. Justice said if his office would declare the pandemic is over and wrapped up the efforts of the InterAgency Task Force there would be additional deaths.

“More people would die, that’s all there is to it,” Justice said.

The governor also indicated Monday he would continue to appear a few times a week for media briefings highlighting the latest on the state’s covid response.

“I’m here for you to ask anything that you want to ask but I am here primarily from the standpoint of just one thing and one thing alone–I know we are saving lives being here,” Justice said.

Active cases of COVID-19 fell below the 2,000 mark in Monday’s report from the DHHR to 1,850. Hospitalizations were at 298 Monday.

State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh was not part of Monday’s briefing.

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