West Virginia governor becomes enraged when asked about the handling of the Covid spike.


Gov. Jim JusticeF. Brian Ferguson/Charleston Gazette-Mail/AP

In a tense interview on Sunday, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice defended his state's handling of the recent Covid-19 rise. On CBS' "Face the Nation," the Republican governor sparred with interviewer Margaret Brennan, challenging most of what she stated, beginning with her claim that the state is "in crisis owing to the Delta varia"

“We’re a long ways from being in crisis in West Virginia,” Justice said.

Their arguments proceeded through discussions of federal policies, immunization rates, and possible mandates for children in an interview that echoed the vehement debate that has accompanied just about every aspect of policy surrounding the pandemic. Justice used the term "for crying out loud" several times to emphasize his frustration with her. In response to Brennan's query on why his administration would not follow California's lead in mandating vaccines for youth aged 12 to 17, Justice said, "No chance."

“I truly believe that the mandates only divide us and only divide us more. From the standpoint of mandates, I don't believe in imposing upon our freedoms over and over and over,” he said after chastising Brennan for her line of questioning.

Brennan persisted in pressing him on the issue, pointing him that further immunizations are required: “Why don't you make it mandatory to protect those children?”

“To think that I don't want to protect the children is ridiculous,” Justice countered, saying the decision should be in the hands of the parents: “For crying out loud, you know, that's who should be making these decisions is the parents.”

West Virginia, like the rest of the country, saw an increase in cases associated with the Delta variety in September, but its statistics were worse than most. The state has the second-highest incidence of new cases per capita in the US, after Alaska, and the second-highest number of Covid deaths per capita, after Idaho, according to the Washington Post's tracker. Justice expressed optimism that the situation might be improving.

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