Gov. Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice speaks at the annual West Virginia Day Celebration on June 20 at the state capitol building in Charleston.

CHARLESTON — The number of the COVID Delta variant cases in the state jumped from five to 12 in one day and Gov. Jim Justice said Tuesday the variant is “scary.”

“It is scaring us to death,” he said of the Delta variant that started in India. This variant spreads faster than all the others and can be more dangerous.

But Justice said the good news is the COVID vaccines are effective against it.

“This is more good news for the people who are vaccinated,” he said. “If you are not, what are you going to do?”

Everything, including sports venues, is wide open now with no masks required, he said, so that makes everyone not vaccinated vulnerable.

“This virus is everywhere and you are walking around unprotected,” he said. “Not smart.”

Five of the 12 Delta variant cases are in Monongalia County, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources website.

McDowell County is the only county in Southern West Virginia so far that has seen a Delta variant case.

That person has recovered and no other case has yet been detected as county health department officials are trying to trace the source.

Mercer County has had 49 cases of the United Kingdom variant, but none of the others.

During his pandemic briefing Tuesday, Justice also reminded residents of the Do It For Babydog vaccine lottery drawing today.

Prize giveaways will include one cash prize of $1 million, two brand-new custom-outfitted trucks, five lifetime hunting licenses, five lifetime fishing licenses, five custom hunting rifles, five custom hunting shotguns, and 25 weekend getaways to West Virginia State Parks for vaccinated West Virginians ages 18 and older. Two full four-year scholarships to any public institution in the state will also be given away to vaccinated West Virginians ages 12-25.

“Absolutely, we want you signed up,” he said. “Your odds of winning are phenomenal compared to winning the general lottery. All I’m trying to do is to continue to encourage you in every way to get vaccinated. By not doing so, you are running such a risk it is unbelievable.”

More than 313,000 West Virginians have registered for the sweepstakes to date.

While the registration deadline to be eligible to win in today’s prize drawing has passed, all vaccinated West Virginians are still able and encouraged to register for future drawings at DoitforBabydog.wv.gov for an opportunity to join the list of winners.

Additional prize drawings will be held every Wednesday through August 4.

The final drawing will include a $1.588 million grand prize and a $588,000 second prize in addition to all the weekly prizes listed above.

In addition to clinic locations, vaccinations continue to be made available at Walgreens locations, the Med Shoppe/Leader network of pharmacies, Walmart locations, and additional independent pharmacies throughout the state as part of the federal pharmacy partnership in West Virginia.

West Virginians can visit Vaccines.gov for assistance in locating and securing an appointment at one of these federal pharmacy partners.

The Joint Interagency Task Force on COVID-19 vaccines continues to ask manufacturers and businesses across the state to increase vaccine access for employees and their families by reaching out to the JIATF to organize vaccination clinics at their facilities. Additionally, church leaders are still urged to contact the JIATF for help organizing vaccination clinics for interested members of their congregations.

Anyone interested in organizing one of these vaccination clinics is asked to contact the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965.

Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com.

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