Justice talks about easing COVID-19 restrictions on ‘Face the Nation’

West Virginia

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice during his briefing on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021
(Courtesy: Gov. Jim Justice)

(WOWK/CBS News) — Republican West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says he’s pleased with the direction of President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Justice made the remarks in a taped interview with CBS News’ ‘Face the Nation’ host Margaret which aired Sunday, March 7.

Friday, Justice loosened business restrictions but kept the mask mandate in place throughout West Virginia. When asked about maintaining that mandate despite some of his Republican colleagues who say masks violates their personal rights, Justice replied “You know, in this situation, we need to be a little more cautious. Nobody likes a mask. But for crying out loud, if we could be a little more prudent for 30 more days or 45 more days or whatever it took for us to get on rock-solid ground, that’s the approach West Virginia is going to take, and that’s the approach that I think it should take.”

As of Saturday, March 6, more than 215,000 West Virginians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The governor has been praised for the success of getting 18% of the state fully vaccinated especially in light of a Kaiser Family Foundation report that four in 10 Republicans, and three in 10 rural residents are hesitant to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

Justice says he was able to get people vaccinated by being truthful and transparent with citizens about the vaccine. “You’ve got to be truthful and you’ve got to be transparent and you’ve got to earn their trust and keep them with you. You know, for- I mean, every single day, you know, or every other day I’m talking to them. I tell them everything. The right and the left hand in my administration know what each other’s doing.”

“What we need to do is we need to go big or don’t go, in my opinion.”

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (r)

On Saturday, the Senate passed the $1.9 trillion dollar relief package. Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito voted against the measure and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin voted for it. Justice was among the few Republican governors who was for the COVID-19 relief package.

“You’ve still got a lot of people in America that are really, really hurting, a lot of people that are struggling, trying to pay the rent, and a lot of states and counties that are hurting as well…When you tighten down things and everything and you just try to skinny it down and just do “X” number of dollars, we have proven that we have missed the boat. What we need to do is we need to go big or don’t go, in my opinion.”

The Governor also took a swipe at former-Governor and now U.S. Senator Joe Manchin for his criticism that Justice spent federal COVID-19 funds on unrelated projects in West Virginia, such as fixing potholes in roads. In response, Justice said, “…Joe Manchin is a professional politician, and I’m not going to get in a food fight with Joe Manchin…if Joe wants to continue with all of his political rhetoric and everything, I can’t do anything about that… I think his statements are ridiculous.”

Justice says of the $1.25 billion dollars of the CARES Act funding, $50 million went to “medical access roads to be able to help people in West Virginia to be able to get to a medical facility.”

On another topic Brennan asked Justice his opinion of the current scandal rocking the statehouse in Albany, New York where Democrat Governor Andrews Cuomo faces an investigation into several allegations of sexual and workplace harassment. Already stripped of some of the powers he used during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuomo faces an increasing number of calls to resign from office.

When asked if he thinks Cuomo should resign replied “…I would say he needs to resign,” adding “I l think it’s terrible and I – I truly believe, you know, that he has a dog’s mess on his hands and with all this, you know, where it stands, it’s not going to do anything except get worse.”

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