West Virginia GOP Gov. Jim Justice declared Sunday there was “no chance” he’d impose a mandate in the state for children to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
In a contentious interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” bristled at the question of his opposition to adding a COVID vaccination to a schedule of shots school children are already mandated to receive.
“No chance,” he repeatedly vowed in answer to a COVID shot requirement.
When pressed, including that as governor he mandates measles, mumps, rubella and other vaccines, he bristled: “You don't have to come in so hot. You guys asked me to come.”
But host Margaret Brennan countered: “I’m asking you to clarify.”
“The bottom line is I truly believe that the mandates only divide us and only divide us more,” Justice said. “From the standpoint of mandates, I don't believe in imposing upon our freedoms over and over and over.”
“I don't know how many times I've got to say it,” he said. “From the standpoint of our children, I'm going to encourage in every way because I truly believe that the more people we get vaccinated, the less people will die. But at the same time, we've still got to stand up for who we are. For crying out loud, we're Americans.”
Justice called it “ridiculous” that he would not want to protect children.
“We all want to protect our children,” he said. “But parents have decisions to make in this situation, too. Just like the local officials have decisions to make. For crying out loud, that's who should be making these decisions, is the parents.”
Justice said, however, his mind is set.
“I do think this nation is so divided from the standpoint of partisanship, it is unbelievable,” he added, deriding Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., for referring earlier on the show to Democrats as a team.
“You elect individuals. You don't elect a team,” he scolded. “You elect individuals to come to Washington and voice their opinions. You do not elect a party.”
Justice also boasted he had “managed… the right way” the COVID pandemic, despite its current surge there.
“We have vaccinated hundreds of thousands of more West Virginians,” he said of the vaccine effort. “It has been tremendously successful. All of us all across this nation hit a wall. We all know that the more we get vaccinated the more live. We all know that. So at the same time, we protect our freedoms, do we not?”
He described the current strain of COVID cases as the “eye of the storm” — and denied hospitals in the state were overwhelmed with cases.
“We're at the peak of the surge right now,” he said.
“From our hospital standpoint… we're still doing elective surgeries and we're still doing all of that. We're not overloaded from the standpoint of our hospitals having to turn people down and all of that. We're absolutely, you know, are managing this and managing it in a right way. But we are right at the peak of our surge here, and we're very hopeful that it is starting to decline. It is declining in certain ways, but we're still going to be very, very diligent in what we do.”
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