CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said his health was improving Thursday, two days after he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

The 70-year-old Republican governor continues to experience mild symptoms.

“Thankfully, I am feeling much better today,” Justice said in a statement distributed by his office. “I desperately want to get out of this house and back to serving our state. I am not one to lay around.”

Justice was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Tuesday, forcing him to call off his State of the State speech to the Legislature. Instead, the remarks were read by a clerk in the House of Delegates on Wednesday evening.

Justice said he woke up Tuesday with a cough and congestion, then developed a headache and high fever. The governor, who is fully vaccinated, received a monoclonal antibody treatment Wednesday as recommended by his physician.

People who have been in close contact with Justice over the past few days were notified. Justice’s wife, first lady Cathy Justice, tested negative on Tuesday evening. The governor’s office staff tested negative on Wednesday.

“I deeply appreciate everyone’s prayers and well-wishes for my family and I this week,” Justice said. “They mean more to Cathy and I than words can convey, and we will never forget them.


“Without question, the fact that I chose to get vaccinated and boosted saved my life, that’s all there is to it. So, now more than ever, I strongly encourage all West Virginians to protect themselves and their families by getting vaccinated.”

Justice has constantly pushed residents to seek vaccines. Soon after they were approved for use a year ago, West Virginia briefly led the nation in getting people the shots, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But only about half of the state’s 1.8 million residents are fully vaccinated.

Justice opposed the federal government’s attempt to force employees at large businesses to get a vaccine or test regularly. He pushed a bill through the Legislature in October to allow certain medical and religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandates of companies.

Justice lifted an earlier indoor mask mandate last June and opposes any new mask mandates.