COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice announces WV among nation’s leaders in CARES Act usage rate; commits $2.5M to test all college and university students

7/31/2020

 

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.

U.S. TREASURY: WV’S CARES ACT USAGE RATE 4TH-BEST IN NATION
During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that a report, released this week by the U.S. Treasury Department, ranks West Virginia as the 4th-best state in the nation when it comes to the rate at which CARES Act funding is being used.

“West Virginia is 4th in the nation in this and that’s great, there’s no question. But, even at 4th, it’s not good enough for me,” Gov. Justice said. “I’m the person who’s telling you, ‘Let’s go from 50th to 1st.’

“1st is exactly what we want to be in West Virginia.”

According to the Treasury Department’s report, West Virginia ranks 1st in both total funding used and funding usage rate among all 21 states across the country that received the base CARES Act amount of $1.25 billion from Congress.

“I’ve been saying every day how good we’ve been doing at getting our CARES Act money out to our people,” Gov. Justice said. “I know that we can’t be fast enough, no matter what we do in getting dollars out. But being criticised for it is completely unfounded.

“Here is a report by the Treasury Department that is just telling everyone what our great people have done in terms of pushing dollars out the door and getting money in the pipelines,” Gov. Justice continued. “And this report is significant because all states had to be measured the exact same way: by the Treasury Department’s guidelines.”

 

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Gov. Justice was joined during Friday’s briefing by Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce and West Virginia Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts, who discussed the Justice Administration’s efficiency at getting CARES Act funding to communities and businesses across the state.

“We’re very appreciative of how the CARES Act has been handled,” Joyce said. “Once the criteria was determined and the process was laid out, it’s been really very efficient and effective. I can’t say enough.

“It’s going to prove vital moving forward for us to continue our essential services; our police and fire protection and all the things that are citizens count on and expect from us,” Joyce continued. “And so, Governor, I want to thank you, on behalf of the citizens of Parkersburg, for all that you’ve done.”

At the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, we are privileged, within our membership, to have companies that employ over half of West Virginia’s entire workforce. And so we hear from those companies,” Roberts said. “We appreciate that, with the Governor’s leadership, we in West Virginia are number four in the country. We like when you say let’s go from where we are to number one. We want to be in that race.

“I want to thank you for your leadership in helping so many small businesses in West Virginia with their cash and customer needs,” Roberts continued.

$2.5 MILLION COMMITTED TO COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES TO TEST ALL STUDENTS
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice announced that he is pledging $2.5 million to ensure that all public and private college and university students and staff members are able to be tested for COVID-19 upon their return to campus.

“We are pledging, right now, $2.5 million to go toward our smaller schools because WVU and Marshall have their own plans and they’re working them great,” Gov. Justice said. “But, for our smaller schools, we will support them with the funds and then we will defer to them as far as determining exactly how they’re going to do the testing.

“But we’ll pass the torch right to our institutions and say, ‘Let’s go,’” Gov. Justice continued. “Let’s test everybody that’s going to be on one of our campuses.”

The funding will come out of West Virginia’s portion of Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds, provided by the U.S. Department of Education to support educational needs in each state related to COVID-19. The GEER funds, approved by Congress through the CARES Act, are a separate allocation from the $1.25 billion in discretionary funds appropriated to the State.

The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission will ensure that the institutions that need these funds to fully test their students and staff get what they need.

The Governor has also asked the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia National Guard to provide resources and support as needed.

The Governor was also joined Friday by Fairmont State University President Dr. Mirta Martin – who also leads the West Virginia’s Council of Presidents, which is comprised of all of the colleges and universities across the state.

“Today’s announcement that you have earmarked funds to help us test all of our students, faculty, and staff is evidence of your resolve to place the needs of our state and of our institutions first,” Martin said. “Governor Justice, on behalf of West Virginia’s universities and colleges, please accept our very heartfelt and sincere gratitude for your support.

“While this pandemic has been the defining event of our lifetime, you, Mr. Governor, have brought optimism, ambition, and heartfelt care to West Virginia,” Martin continued. “You have guided our state by putting ambition into action and we are so very grateful.”

“We all want to go back to school, but we’ve got to do it right, we’ve got to do it as safe as we possibly can,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve got to protect our students, our faculties, and our communities. We’ve got to protect all those around us.”

 

ACTIVE CHURCH OUTBREAKS DOWN TO FOUR COUNTIES
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice announced that previous church-related outbreaks in Boone and Kanawha counties are no longer considered active at this time.

Additional church-related outbreaks remain active in four counties across West Virginia, including Grant, Logan, Mason, and Taylor counties.

These outbreaks account for about 87 total cases combined – down from 131 such cases on Wednesday.

 

COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS UPDATE
As of Friday morning, the total number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia had increased to 1,712.

View more COVID-19 data at Coronavirus.wv.gov.

Gov. Justice reported that a total of 182 new positive cases were identified across West Virginia on Thursday alone, a new single-day record high.

“West Virginia, you've got to do anything and everything you can possibly do,” Gov. Justice said. “You can't ease off. You have to wear a mask. Life is too precious.”

Despite the recent increase in case numbers, West Virginia continues to excel in several metrics compared to its surrounding states and the national average.

Gov. Justice noted that Florida's 253 COVID-19-related deaths yesterday alone are more than than two-and-a-half times as many deaths as West Virginia has experienced throughout the entire pandemic thus far.

“So far, you've been the miracle. you're doing better than a lot of other states,” Gov. Justice said. “But we've got to continue to bring this thing down.”

 

DHHR SECRETARY DETAILS TIMELINE ON PRINCETON NURSING HOME OUTBREAK
Additionally during Friday’s briefing, DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch broke down a detailed timeline of events related to the recent outbreak identified within the Princeton Health Care Center – a long-term care facility in Mercer County.

“The Governor says, ‘Run to the fire,’ and we did run to the fire,” Sec. Crouch said. “Our staff and the staff at the facility did exactly what needed to be done.”

Sec. Crouch explained that contact tracing efforts have determined that the current outbreak being seen at the facility was independent of another outbreak that was properly contained weeks prior. 

“The timeline between the first two cases was 15 days,” Sec. Crouch said. “The source of these two individual outbreaks were separate, they were different, we found that through contact tracing.

“Any discussion in the press that something was missed is inaccurate,” Sec. Crouch continued.

Sec. Crouch explained how DHHR has coordinated four rounds of testing at the facility over the past month. 

“We have been in constant communication with the facility, trying to make sure we provide all support needed, along with the National Guard,” Sec. Crouch said. “We have done everything we could do as rapidly as we could do it.”

Click here to read the full timeline

 

DHHR DATA REPORTING UPDATE
Also today, State health officials announced that beginning tomorrow, Aug. 1, 2020, the DHHR will transition from providing twice-daily updates to one report every 24 hours.

Gov. Justice announced the adjustment during his media briefing last Friday, July 24. 

“It’s being done across the nation and it seems that it’s more efficient that way because the numbers change constantly,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s more efficient to see how we’re doing over a 24-hour reporting period instead.”

This once-a-day reporting will begin with the 10:00 a.m. report tomorrow.

FREE COVID-19 TESTING: GILMER, MARION, HAMPSHIRE, JACKSON, MCDOWELL, TAYLOR, BROOKE & MINGO COUNTIES
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 Gilmer, Marion, Hampshire, Jackson, McDowell, Taylor, Brooke, and Mingo counties.

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.

Gilmer County

Saturday, August 1
7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
809 Medical Drive, Suite 3, Glenville, WV

Marion County
Saturday, August 1
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Windmill Park: 900 Ogden Avenue, Fairmont, WV

Hampshire County
Wednesday, August 5
8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Hampshire High School: 157 Trojan Way, Romney, WV

Jackson County
Friday, August 7
12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
River Front Park: 220 Riverfront Park, Ravenswood, WV
Saturday, August 8
12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Cedar Lakes Conference Center: 82 FFA Drive, Ripley, WV

McDowell County
Friday, August 7
8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Southside Middle School: 13509 Rocket Boys Drive, War, WV
Saturday, August 8
8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Tug Lot: 198 Tug Tower Addition Road, Welch, WV

Taylor County
Saturday, August 8
8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Grafton High School: 400 Yates High School Avenue, Grafton, WV

Brooke County
Friday, August 14 & Saturday, August 15
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Bethany College
Hummel Field House: 6268 Main Street, Bethany, WV

Mingo County
Friday, August 14 & Saturday, August 15
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Tug Valley Wellness Center: 50 Lenore Business Center, Williamson, WV

SMALL BUSINESS GRANT APPLICATIONS
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that applications are available for small businesses seeking to receive funding through the Governor’s West Virginia CARES Act Small Business Grant Program.

The Governor announced on Wednesday, July 29, that funding had begun being distributed.

The initiative will provide $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.

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: $63.4 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 $63.4 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.

 

EXECUTIVE ORDER: EXTENDED BENEFITS
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice issued an executive order, including the actively seeking work requirement for Extended Benefits in the list of regulatory statute provisions to be suspended and interpreted flexibly or waived, as appropriate, for the duration of the ongoing State of Emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic, for the sole purpose of waiving the work search requirement under the Extended Benefits program.

Click here to view the order

 

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.

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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Banner Images Courtesy of the West Virginia Department of Commerce

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