Despite every last shred of evidence to the contrary, Gov. Jim Justice – supplicant to President Trump – says that he is not yet ready to recognize Joe Biden as president-elect of the United States. Well, we have a feeling the duly elected president, come Jan. 20, 2021, is not waiting on Big Jim’s OK to get the ball rolling. In fact, Biden and his vice president-elect, Kamala Harris, have already assembled a team of experts to address public health policy and best practices as it pertains to a worsening pandemic.

And yet Justice, at his Wednesday pandemic briefing, sounded exhausted by the battle, at wit’s end on how to smash the spread of the virus going ’round these mountains.

Maybe he ought to give Biden a call.

The Biden response to a pandemic, ignored by the current occupant of the White House, ensures the wide availability of free testing, the elimination of all cost barriers to preventive care and treatment for Covid-19, the development of a vaccine and the full deployment and operation of necessary supplies, personnel and facilities.

That’s just the general overview – and in it the governor should see that he shares much more in common with the president-elect than Trump, like aggressive testing, which Justice has been pushing for months.

But Biden is also planning an economic response that includes emergency paid leave for all those affected by the outbreak and providing assistance to workers, families and small businesses that are hit hard by the crisis. Yes, Biden will need congressional approval to make an immediate and ambitious investment to put all of those pieces in place, to deliver funding where it is most in need, but it is a necessary response that, if not already painfully obviously, certainly will be 70 days from now given the current administration’s dismissive attitude and preference for golf outings instead of, you know, actual work.

It’s not as though Justice doesn’t have unspent federal CARES Act dollars lying around to put to use out here on the ground.

Maybe the governor should do the magnanimous thing, the right thing, and invite legislators back into session so they can help him develop a strategy to put those dollars to work – right here, right now, not two months down the road.

In the meantime, we would advise the governor to pick up the phone and make the call – and ask for the president-elect. Might just come in handy.

— The Register-Herald

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