COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice announces County Alert Map to determine nursing home visitation; highlights success of indoor face covering requirement

8/24/2020

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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.

COUNTY ALERT SYSTEM TO DETERMINE NURSING HOME VISITATION
During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice and state health leaders announced that West Virginia’s nationally-renowned County Alert System – the color-coded and metric-based map being used to determine school reopenings – will now also be used to indicate the status of nursing home visitation in each county.

Nursing homes across the state will begin using the same green-yellow-orange-red color scale to notify the public about visitation protocols.

“We worked hard last week with the West Virginia Health Care Association to develop a system that would allow us to determine which facilities we could allow visitation and which we could not,” Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch said. 

Orange and red counties will not allow visitation, except in cases of compassionate care due to end-of-life or deteriorating physical and/or mental health. Red counties will also restrict activities for residents such as communal dining and non-essential services.

Green and yellow counties will permit nursing home visitation with varying levels of safety restrictions. 

“We are pleased to roll this new system out to make sure we’re allowing loved ones to get in to see their family members,” Sec. Crouch said. “But still, even if your county is green, I urge everyone to contact your local nursing home to arrange visits throughout the pandemic.”

“We’re going to approach this with the utmost caution because I remain tremendously concerned about our nursing homes,” Gov. Justice said. “But you’ve got a tough situation here, because you’ve got people in nursing homes that desperately need to see their family and you've got their family that desperately wants to see their loved ones.”

Gov. Justice issued an executive order today that will lift his most recent ban on all nursing home visitation, effective at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020; clearing the way for the County Alert System to be used in determining nursing home visitation. However, health officials will continuously monitor nursing homes moving forward, allowing for swift changes if necessary.

“I can assure you just this about using the color coding: we’re going to watch our numbers with everything in us and if, by chance, we have additional outbreaks because of visitation, then we're going to have to batten down the hatches and go back to no visitation,” Gov. Justice said. “I just hope and pray, with all in me, that we’re not far off from a vaccine.”

 

 

DATA HIGHLIGHTS SUCCESS OF STATEWIDE INDOOR FACE COVERING REQUIREMENT
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice presented data highlighting the effectiveness of his Statewide Indoor Face Covering Requirement.

Since July 7, 2020, the day the Governor’s face covering requirement went into effect, West Virginia has seen a significant decline in its daily rate of positive tests, both on a seven-day rolling average and a 14-day rolling average.

“You should be really proud, West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “When I ordered this, there was a lot of pushback at first and I understood because none of us liked to do it. But yet, West Virginia, you overwhelmingly stepped up and look what’s happened.”

On the seven-day rolling average, the daily rate of positive tests peaked at 4.3 percent on July 10. However, in the time since, the daily rate of positive tests have declined to 1.9 percent.

On the 14-day rolling average, the daily rate of positive tests peaked at 3.9 percent on July 16 and July 17. However, in the time since, the daily rate of positive tests have declined to 2.2 percent.

“When we made that order, we were going through the roof with our cases,” Gov. Justice said. “This order saved a ton of lives, that's all there is to it, because of what you did, West Virginia. You listened. You wore your face covering.”

 

 

COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS UPDATE
Additionally Monday, Gov. Justice reported that West Virginia’s statewide rate of COVID-19 transmission – also known as Rt – is currently tied for the 3rd-best such rate in the country, dropping to 0.85 today. If a given state’s Rt value is above 1.0, it means the virus will spread quickly, while values under 1.0 mean infections are slowing. West Virginia’s Rt has remained under 1.0 every day since July 6, 2020; the same day that the Governor announced his Statewide Indoor Face Covering Requirement.

The number of active cases and hospitalizations in West Virginia are also down from the end of last week.

Click here to view the latest COVID-19 data

 

 

CORRECTIONS FACILITIES UPDATE
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice reported that Mount Olive Correctional Complex and Jail saw new cases among both inmates and staff last week.

“Corrections did what they’ve been doing over and over and that’s run to the fire,” Gov. Justice said. “They tested the entire medical section and one of the housing units.”

In total, more than 200 tests were completed.

“All the medical unit testing came back negative, which is great,” Gov. Justice said.

Results are still pending from the medical unit testing. All remaining employees will be tested on Wednesday this week.

As of Sunday, there were three positive inmate cases and seven positive employee cases at Mount Olive.

Meanwhile, South Central Regional Jail remains on lockdown after the second complete round of enhanced testing there.

More than 460 inmates and 80 staff have been tested at SCRJ, with 61 positive inmate cases and four positive employee cases being identified.

UPDATE ON CHURCHES, LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES
Also Monday, Gov. Justice announced that the recent church-related outbreak in Taylor County is no longer active at this time.

However, additional church-related outbreaks remain active in three counties across West Virginia: Cabell, Wood, and Wyoming counties. These outbreaks account for about 33 total cases combined.

The Governor added that there are now 31 outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state. The largest of these outbreaks are at Grant Rehab and Care Center in Grant County, Cedar Ridge Center and the Marmet Nursing Home in Kanawha County, Trinity Healthcare in Logan County, Princeton Healthcare Center in Mercer County, Springfield Center in Monroe County, Pine Lodge Nursing Home in Raleigh County, and Rosewood Nursing Home in Taylor County.

 

 

CORONAVIRUS CZAR UPDATES ON COUNTY ALERT MAP, PLASMA USE, COVID REINFECTIONS
West Virginia Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh provided several updates during his remarks Monday.

First, he offered clarification on the differences between the West Virginia County Alert System map and a similar map by the Harvard Global Health Institute, which served as the original inspiration for the school metric.

“They're going to be slightly different,” Dr. Marsh said. “Remember, the difference in the two maps is that the Harvard map counts all cases: community spread cases and congregate cases, including nursing home residents, correctional facilities inmates, and so on. The West Virginia school map just focuses on the community spread.”

Dr. Marsh went on to provide an update about ongoing plans to stand up a plasma donation operation in West Virginia.

“The convalescent plasma – the immune plasma which is a blood product that is used from people that have recovered from COVID-19 to give to people who are really sick with COVID-19 – was approved by the Federal Drug Administration for emergency use authorization,” Dr. Marsh said. “Basically what that means is we will start being able to give the convalescent plasma, not necessarily using only a clinical trial.

“That will change the game because, in people that are really ill, in the ICU, on ventilators, if the convolution plasma is given in the first day or so, then the reduction in death is 36 percent,” Dr. Marsh continued.

Finally, Dr. Marsh cautioned West Virginians that public health officials have confirmed that a man from Hong Kong, who recovered from COVID-19 once, has become reinfected.

“That's not really a surprise to us because we know that COVID-19 is a coronavirus and coronaviruses are yearly viruses,” Dr. Marsh said. “So, if you had a coronavirus last year, you still can get it this year. So we knew that the immune response may not be lasting and this was about four months from the first infection.

“We have known that antibody levels go down over three to four months in a number of people,” Dr. Marsh continued. “So that really tells us that if you've gotten COVID-19 then you may well be protected against a more severe form, but it doesn't completely protect you from getting COVID-19 again.

“This is a real warning for a lot of our younger people and people that may not consider themselves so vulnerable because we know now that getting the disease is not necessarily a lifetime of immune protection.”

 

 

FREE COVID-19 TESTING
Gov. Justice also updated the schedule of upcoming free community COVID-19 testing events taking place over the next several weeks at various dates and times in multiple counties across the state.

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.

Counties with upcoming free testing events include:

  • Boone County
  • Jackson County
  • Lincoln County
  • Mason County
  • Mineral County
  • Nicholas County
  • Webster County

Click here to view dates and additional details

 

 

SMALL BUSINESS GRANTS: $10.4 MILLION HAS NOW BEEN AWARDED
Also today, Gov. Justice provided an update on small businesses that have applied for funding through the Governor’s West Virginia CARES Act Small Business Grant Program, reporting that over 2,500 applications have been submitted, with more than $10.4 million being awarded to date.

The initiative is providing $150 million of West Virginia’s CARES Act funding to qualifying businesses across the state. Any West Virginia-based small business, in existence on March 1, 2020, with 1-35 employees, is able to apply for up to $5,000 in grant funding.

Gov. Justice also recently announced that he is opening up his West Virginia CARES Act Small Business Grant Program to sole proprietorships and self-employed individuals in West Virginia.

Any sole proprietor or self-employed person, in operation on or before March 1, 2020, is now able to apply for up to $2,000 in grant funding.

Businesses planning to apply must first be registered as a vendor with the State to be eligible. Guidelines for the grants and instructions on how to apply are available at Grants.wv.gov.

The application will remain open until Sept. 30, 2020.

 

 

CITIES/COUNTIES GRANT FUNDING: $87.9 MILLION HAS NOW BEEN AWARDED
Also today, Gov. Justice provided an update on cities and counties throughout West Virginia applying for funds through the federal CARES Act, reporting that more than $87.9 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.

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.

 

 

WEST VIRGINIA STRONG SUMMER FOOD ASSISTANCE MAP
Also, 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 696 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.

 

 

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

West Virginia now boasts the 2nd-best U.S. Census response rate in the country.

To date, 88.1 percent of West Virginians have been counted. For perspective, during the last Census in 2010, the state’s final response rate was just 74 percent.

West Virginians are able to complete the Census until Sept. 30, 2020.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 


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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