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For Leadership, Re-Elect Justice

Each and every one of the 422 fellow West Virginians we have lost to COVID-19 has been a precious life, as Gov. Jim Justice points out.

But just seven states have done better to save lives. Our epidemic fatality rate of 23 per 100,000 is one-third of the national average — and lower than 42 other states.

Even states where draconian, job-killing restrictions have been put in place have not done as well. Michigan, for example, has a COVID-19 death rate of 74 per 100,000 people.

Battling the disease has required sacrifices from all of us — but Justice’s leadership has made an enormous difference. Though he is up for re-election on Nov. 3, the governor has continued to focus on saving lives.

Justice acted quickly to keep COVID-19 out of our state for as long as possible. Once the invader had arrived, he issued orders that saved lives. With the guidance of health care professionals, Justice ordered decisive steps to protect older West Virginians in nursing homes. He shut down schools to lessen the virus’ spread — but allowed them to reopen as soon as possible, for the good of our children and grandchildren.

Testing for the disease has been critical — and Justice saved lives by making high-risk communities a priority for it.

At a time when effective leadership has been a matter of life and death, Justice provides it.

His efforts were evident before COVID-19 hit. West Virginia’s unemployment rate last February was 3.5%, in part because of the governor’s economic development work. Through coups such as attracting the high-tech Virgin Hyperloop program to our state, the successes continue.

While other states persist in piling up debt, Justice and legislators have been prudent in their spending. West Virginia’s general revenue budget for the current year is more than $50 million less than for last year.

Justice has been attentive to local needs, too. To cite just two examples: He made the massive Interstate 70 project in Ohio County a priority in his “Roads to Prosperity” initiative. And, when legislative action threatened jobs at Wheeling Island Hotel-Racetrack-Casino, Justice vetoed the bill.

We endorse Justice for re-election as governor of West Virginia. His leadership in both good times and bad makes keeping him in office the common-sense choice for governor on Nov. 3.

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