(The Center Square) – West Virginia has been in a state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly three years, but Gov. Jim Justice announced it ends Jan. 1.
Justice signed a proclamation to officially terminate the state of emergency Jan. 1 and will end any remaining COVID-19 rules and regulations on that date. All statutory regulations and executive orders issued in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic will no longer be in effect. The proclamation notes the governor is delaying the effectiveness until January to provide adequate time for them to be lifted without any harmful effects on West Virginians.
“The state of emergency doesn’t affect a whole lot anymore,” the governor said during a news conference. “There was a time we used this state of emergency in a way that was prudent. …Now it’s no longer needed.”
During the news conference, Justice said one of the reasons the state of emergency remained in effect was because the administration wanted to ensure that lifting it would not jeopardize any federal money going to the state. He said the administration does not believe there is currently a need for an emergency response and that the state would not lose any federal money by lifting the state of emergency declaration.
The governor reiterated his recommendation for everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Nearly 74% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine and nearly 64% are fully vaccinated. More than 68% of those aged five and older have received at least one dose and more than 59% are fully vaccinated. The elderly have higher rates of vaccination than younger people.