West Virginia governor ‘extremely unwell’ with Covid

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has tested positive for Covid-19 after developing symptoms suddenly on Tuesday, his office has said.

In a statement, the second-term Mountain State governor said he was “surprised” to have tested positive for the coronavirus, but was “thankful to the Lord above” that he’d been vaccinated and boosted, and that he has “an incredible support system” that includes his “loving family”.

But Mr Justice said he would delay his planned State of the State address to the West Virginia legislature because he was feeling “extremely unwell” with “congestion and a cough” as well as a headache, a fever, and an “extremely elevated” heart rate and blood pressure. He added that he was receiving monoclonal antibody treatments which he hoped would “lessen” the symptoms.

“For this to happen just one night before the State of the State – knowing I won’t be able to be there – saddens me … but, because of this pandemic, we all must adjust and realise that our lives aren’t the same as they were a few short years ago,” he said. “I ask everyone to continue praying for the 5,452 great West Virginians that we’ve lost. We need to keep pulling the rope together. We’re going to get through this and put an end to this terrible pandemic once and for all”.

He added: “So I apologise in every way for not being able to join you tomorrow night, and I especially apologise to all our invited guests who are having to change their plans. 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.”

Mr Justice, a former Democrat who switched his party affiliation to the Republican Party seven months after being sworn in for his first term as governor in 2017, has been an outspoken advocate of vaccination to stem the Covid-19 pandemic.

Though the state was an early leader in distributing Covid-19 vaccines, the state’s vaccination rate has lagged behind the national average in recent months despite the governor’s best efforts, including a vaccination lottery promoted with the help of his English bulldog, Babydog Justice using the slogan “do it for Babydog”.

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