Justice government says DHHR’s abrupt and key resignation is a ‘personnel’ issue | Tuesday News
CHARLESTON — The abrupt resignation last week of the assistant secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is a matter of “staffing,” Gov. Jim Justice said Monday.
Justice addressed Jeremiah Samples’ resignation during his pandemic briefing, declining to comment on the resignation but admitting DHHR has had issues “that have been going on for decades.”
“I’ll fix it,” he said of unspecified issues within the agency. “I will bring in the experts to do a full top-to-bottom review. Once we find the gaps and what we should do, we will fix them.
Bill Crouch, DHHR secretary, also declined to discuss details of the resignation.
“It’s a personal matter and I won’t go into specifics,” Crouch said.
But he said differences may have surfaced with the samples.
“We all have to pull the rope in the same direction and involve everyone in what we do,” he said.
Samples backed up that assessment in a statement that said, “Unfortunately, Secretary Crouch and I did not share the same views on what the issues are, how to deal with them, or the urgency of getting results, but I respect this parting of the ways and pray for the state’s success in addressing these issues.
Crouch said he fully supports a “top-down” agency review and will do “whatever it takes” to remedy any issues.
The resignation follows an attempt during the legislative session to split the agency into two separate departments, health and human resources.
Although the bill passed, the Justice Department vetoed it because, he said, it needed more work.
The judiciary also urged residents once again on Monday to get vaccinated and fortified following a new wave of the Omicron BA.2 sub-variant that continues to spread across the country.
“The benefits of the vaccine are out of this world,” he said. “You could still catch COVID. But the probability of you going to the hospital is really low, and the probability – heaven forbid – of dying is almost nil. Getting your booster shots is so, so important to you.
Not getting a call back is a “really bad move”, he said.
Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s COVID-19 czar, said it’s especially crucial for elderly residents to protect themselves as a rise in cases is predicted.
The RT value rose to 0.97, he said of the value which indicates increasing community spread, and reaching 1.0 is seen as the start of a new wave of infections.
“We’re probably underestimating the number of cases,” he said, and the caution is an attempt not to scare people off but to let them know “we’re not done with COVID until COVID is over.” ‘are not done with us’.
Marsh said 95% of all COVID-related deaths have been 50 or older, and being fully vaccinated and strengthened is the best and most effective protection against serious illness and death.
“We don’t see this (Omicron BA.2 subvariant) as the dominant variant in West Virginia yet, but it most certainly will,” he said.
Marsh said China is in serious trouble now because it hasn’t implemented an aggressive vaccination program, especially among its elderly.
— Contact Charles Boothe at [email protected]