COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice: West Virginia produces revenue surplus for Fiscal Year 2020; fairs, outdoor concerts, and more now allowed to reopen

7/1/2020

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CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia health leaders and other officials today for his latest daily press briefing regarding the State’s COVID-19 response.

GOV. JUSTICE ANNOUNCES HISTORIC REVENUE SURPLUS DESPITE EFFECTS OF COVID-19
During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that, despite the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the economy, he and his administration have delivered another historic revenue surplus in West Virginia for Fiscal Year 2020.

“That, in itself, may be the biggest accomplishment that we’ve ever pulled off,” Gov. Justice said. “For us to run across the finish line with a surplus, in the year of the God-awfullest pandemic of our lifetimes, it’s an absolute miracle.”

After setting the all-time state record for revenue growth in the previous fiscal year, those surpluses were built into initial budget estimates for FY2020.

“We were tracking right along with our best numbers ever and then, all of a sudden, this pandemic hit,” Gov. Justice said. “By April, I was told by our revenue experts that we were going to be $525 million short.

“Of course, I never really fell into that because I knew that West Virginia really never shut down completely,” Gov. Justice continued. “We shut down the aspects to protect your health. We shut down our schools, big gatherings, restaurants, bars; things like that. But we kept our essential businesses open. We kept our engine running enough to propel us economically. And then, all of the sudden, the numbers started looking a little bit better and better.”

Working alongside state revenue experts to utilize money from reserve accounts, and with the federal government’s move to raise the reimbursement rate on Medicaid, Gov. Justice and his administration were able to turn a shortfall of $255.8 million into another historic surplus for West Virginia, with the reserve funds used being replenished.

“Through a lot a lot of hard work, we’ve accomplished something that probably no one ever thought we could’ve done,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s part of the miracle in West Virginia and I am really, really proud.”

The Governor added that, with the income tax filing deadline having been moved from April to July, revenue experts are anticipating an early boost in FY2021.

“We deferred almost $200 million in income taxes that are going to flow into July that would’ve been paid back in April,” Gov. Justice said. “And when that money hits our books later this month, it’s going to jumpstart us for the future.”

 

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CONSUMER SPENDING SOARING TO PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS
Gov. Justice also announced Wednesday that a state-by-state analysis by the Harvard-based research group Opportunity Insights found that overall consumer spending in West Virginia returned to pre-pandemic levels in June.

The research shows that West Virginia is among six states, including Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, and Tennessee, where consumer spending is now higher than it was at the start of 2020.

 

JULY 1 REOPENINGS NOW UNDERWAY
Also, Gov. Justice reminded West Virginians that another round of reopenings officially went into effect Wednesday as part of the Governor’s West Virginia Strong – The Comeback plan to restart the state’s economy.

Provided that all safety guidelines are being properly followed, approved activity reopenings on Wednesday, July 1, include:

  • Fairs, festivals, amusement parks, and rides
  • Outdoor open-air concerts​

Click here to view full safety guidelines

Entities included in each phase of this reopening plan are not required to resume operations on any specific date. This plan provides the option for reopening, not a requirement.

Gov. Justice has signed an executive order to formally permit these reopenings.

 

$1 BILLION IN UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS NOW DISTRIBUTED
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that WorkForce West Virginia has now surpassed $1 billion in unemployment benefits distributed to residents who have applied for assistance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In total, WorkForce West Virginia has distributed $1,001,051,551 in benefits to-date.

“All you’ve got to do is turn on your TV and look: in other states, you’ve still got people standing in lines, standing around the block and everything,” Gov. Justice said. “We are lucky to have had relatively minor problems, and we’ve been able to get people help very quickly. We’ve got it done. I want to really commend Scott Adkins, his whole group with WorkForce, our National Guard, and all those who put in a lot of licks to make that happen.”

 

CITIES/COUNTIES GRANT FUNDING: $24 MILLION HAS NOW BEEN AWARDED
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice provided an update on cities and counties throughout West Virginia applying for funds through the federal CARES Act, reporting that more than $24 million has now been awarded all across the state.

A new web portal is now available for city and county government officials to apply for this grant funding, at grants.wv.gov. Interested parties can also call the helpline: 1-833-94-GRANT.

“There have only been 137 cities and counties that have applied so far,” Gov. Justice said. “We still need more to apply. We’re just trying to pump that money out to you as fast as we possibly can, but we need you to apply.”

Each of the recipients of CARES Act funding, along with grant amounts, are now available to view through the COVID-19 transparency web portal provided by West Virginia State Auditor’s Office.

 

MYRTLE BEACH OUTBREAKS
Once again on Wednesday, Gov. Justice discussed the recent surge in COVID-19 cases being seen at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, again cautioning residents who are considering traveling to the popular vacation destination that there are now cases in 23 West Virginia counties, with at least 115 cases that are tied to residents traveling to the Myrtle Beach area.

Berkeley, Boone, Cabell, Fayette, Greenbrier, Harrison, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, Mason, Mercer, Monongalia, Nicholas, Ohio, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Ritchie, Taylor, Wayne, and Wood counties have reported to the DHHR that they are investigating cases that may be tied to Myrtle Beach travel.

“I strongly urge anybody that’s been to Myrtle Beach to please get tested,” Gov. Justice said. “This is really important stuff.”

 

FREE COMMUNITY TESTING TODAY: HARRISON COUNTY
Also today, Gov. Justice issued a reminder that free community COVID-19 testing is being provided in Harrison County this evening until 7 p.m. This testing is part of the Governor’s initiative to increase testing opportunities across the state.

Testing is scheduled as follows:

Harrison County
Wednesday, July 1

2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Robert C. Byrd High School: 1 Eagle Way, Clarksburg, WV 26301

 

ADDITIONAL COMMUNITY TESTING UPCOMING: MARSHALL, MERCER, MONONGALIA, PRESTON, AND WAYNE COUNTIES
Additionally during his briefing, Gov. Justice announced that the next round of free community COVID-19 testing will be provided next week – Friday, July 10 and Saturday, July 11 – in Marshall, Mercer, Monongalia, Preston, and Wayne counties.

Click here to read more

The effort is part of a plan to provide free optional testing to all residents in several counties that are experiencing higher rates of COVID-19 transmission. It targets residents who have struggled to be seen by a physician or do not have insurance to pay for testing. However, other residents, including those who are asymptomatic are welcome to be tested.

Testing is scheduled as follows:

Marshall County
Friday, July 10

9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
McMechen City Hall: 325 Logan Street, McMechen, WV 26040
Saturday, July 11
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Marshall County Health Department: 513 6th Street, Moundsville, WV 26041

Mercer County
Saturday, July 11

9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Mercer County Health Department: 978 Blue Prince Road, Bluefield, WV 24701

Monongalia County
Friday, July 10

9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Morgantown Farmer’s Market (Downtown): 400 Spruce Street, Morgantown, WV 26505
Saturday, July 11
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Mountainview Elementary School: 661 Green Bag Road, Morgantown, WV 26508

Preston County
Friday, July 10 & Saturday, July 11

9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Kingwood Elementary School: 207 South Price Street, Kingwood, WV 26537

Wayne County
Friday, July 10

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Dunlow Community Center: 1475 Left Fork Dunlow Bypass Road, Dunlow, WV 25511
Saturday, July 11
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Wayne Elementary School: 80 McGinnis Drive, Wayne, WV 25570

 

 

GOVERNOR APPLAUDS GRAND OPENING OF REVAMPED FAIRMONT MEDICAL CENTER
Gov. Justice also took time out of Wednesday's briefing to applaud WVU Medicine for their grand opening yesterday of the revamped Fairmont Medical Center in Marion County.

The same facility used to be known as Fairmont Regional Medical Center, or FRMC. Back in February, FRMC announced that they were going to close within 60 days.

“I said: ‘We just can’t have this happen,’” Gov. Justice said. “We can’t be in a situation where the seventh-largest city in our state doesn’t even have a hospital. Those people in Marion County deserve a lot better than what was expected to happen.

“Two days later, I went up there and I sat with them and I listened to their issues and concerns,” Gov. Justice continued. “You could see all over their faces, the people who worked there, just how much they loved their hospital, loved working there, loved their patients, and said how bad it would be if their patients had to drive 30 minutes to get to a medical facility.

“Then, we really dug in. And I salute the people at WVU because they really stepped up.”

At an event in March, Gov. Justice and officials with WVU announced that FRMC would continue operating under the WVU umbrella and that a new, state-of-the-art, full-service 100-bed facility would be constructed during the next 18-24 months, preserving hundreds of jobs in the region.

Also last Friday, Gov. Justice announced his proposal that $10 million dollars from the federal CARES Act funding go toward reimbursing Fairmont Medical Center for expenses incurred while setting up as a COVID-19 surge hospital over the past few months.

“Yesterday’s opening was a really special day,” Gov. Justice said. “To the people of Marion County, I congratulate you. I thank all of our legislators who helped make this happen. I thank WVU. I thank everyone involved and I’m looking forward to having a medical facility in Fairmont for years and years to come.”

 

WEST VIRGINIA STRONG SUMMER FOOD ASSISTANCE MAP
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice reminded West Virginians that an interactive free-feeding location map, designed to help connect citizens in need to food resources across the state, is available online.

Click here to view the map

More than 690 free-feeding locations have now been made available through a multi-agency effort between the West Virginia National Guard, the West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services, the West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (WV VOAD), and the United Way.

If food distribution locations aren't available in some communities, individuals are encouraged to call 211 for further assistance.

 

STATEWIDE CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES TESTING UPDATE
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice provided another update on his initiative to test all inmates and employees within the State’s network of correctional facilities for COVID-19.

The most recent testing results showed there were a total of one active COVID-19 case among all inmates and residents across West Virginia. The case is at Huttonsville Correctional Center and Jail. There also remain two active COVID-19 cases among corrections employees and contract staff.

More than 10,000 inmates and 4,000 employees were tested in total.

 

WEST VIRGINIANS URGED TO PARTICIPATE IN CENSUS
Once more today, Gov. Justice asked all West Virginians to participate in the 2020 United States Census.

“Here’s bad news to me: the national response rate, to-date, is 61.6 percent,” Gov. Justice said. “You’re at 53.2 percent, West Virginia. This is free dollars coming from the feds to us. You’ve got to do better than this.”

Every West Virginian who does not respond to the Census represents a loss of $20,000 in federal funds over the next 10 years for the state and its local communities. The funds can go toward things like healthcare, education, infrastructure, school lunch programs, and more.

Be counted in minutes: 2020census.gov.

 

DATA UPDATE
Gov. Justice provided another overview of statewide data on COVID-19, highlighting that West Virginia’s cumulative percentage of positive test results is at 1.69 percent. The daily percent positive is at 0.35 percent.

West Virginia continues to excel in several metrics compared to its surrounding states and the national average. View the latest COVID-19 data at Coronavirus.wv.gov.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Click here to view all Executive Orders and other actions taken by Gov. Justice to combat the spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia.

For more information about COVID-19 prevention and more, call the State’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-887-4304 or visit Coronavirus.wv.gov.

 

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Contact Information

Jordan Damron, jordan.l.damron@wv.gov

Contact

Office of the Governor
State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E
Charleston, WV 25305

Office Phone:
304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

Governor's Mansion:
304.558.3588

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