COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice announces extension of school meal waivers; Mon County bars ordered closed again

9/2/2020

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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.
SCHOOL MEAL WAIVERS EXTENSION
Among several school-related updates during Wednesday’s COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Justice announced that the United States Department of Agriculture has granted West Virginia an extension of school meal waivers, which will allow the West Virginia Department of Education to continue the Summer Food Service Program and the Seamless Summer Option through December 31, 2020.

“This is just going to ensure that we’re able to continue helping our kids,” Gov. Justice said.

This extension will ensure that participating schools and private organizations have the flexibility they need to reach children who rely on free and reduced-price school meals.

The waivers cover meals to students in all learning models, including in-person, remote, or virtual, including:
  • Area Eligibility, which allows meals to be provided in areas that don’t meet the 50 percent area eligibility; 
  • Non-Congregate Feeding, which allows meals to be served outside of group settings (meals can be distributed at a site where families pick up the meals, and they can be delivered to children’s homes); 
  • Meal Service Times, which provide flexibility to the meal service time requirements by allowing service outside of standard meal times; and 
  • Parents and Guardians to Pick Up Meals for Children, which allows a parent or guardian to pick up meals to take home to children.

The continuation of these waivers will allow educators and school service personnel to focus on transitioning students back into the classroom after the extended break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I thank USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and I surely thank President Trump for granting these waivers,” Gov. Justice said.

“Think about this,” Gov. Justice continued. “Together with the Department of Education, DHHR, National Guard, West Virginia School Nutrition Association, and county nutrition programs, we have provided, so far, over 16 million meals since March, when schools began remote learning.”

Click here to view photo album​
GOVERNOR DISCUSSES STUDENT-ATHLETE TESTING PROPOSAL FROM MONDAY
Additionally on the subject of schools, Gov. Justice discussed his proposal from Monday, which provided an opportunity for student-athletes in three orange counties – Fayette, Kanawha, and Logan counties – to receive free COVID-19 testing so they could participate in athletic competitions this week.

Following the Governor’s proposal Monday, local education leaders from all three orange counties announced that they had each declined to accept the offer and would not take part in this testing.

“We missed a real opportunity there,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re planning and trying to go back to school on September 8th to educate our kids, and we have to make our students, our teachers, our administrators, and our service personnel as safe as they can possibly be.

“We had a week before school started and we wanted to do something that would benefit us all, from the standpoint of finding additional medical information about where this disease is in our communities,” Gov. Justice continued. “We thought that this was the very best move; to give our kids an opportunity to possibly be able to compete in a way that we could also learn so much more.

“And if we would’ve found some positives, whether it had been students, coaches, or anyone, maybe we could’ve isolated them and then we could’ve kept them from spreading this to a grandparent or a teammate or anyone else. 

“We turn that down and it probably was not a good move because it would’ve given us more information. Now we’ve got to just move forward. Our sports are important, but they’re never as important as our school.”
MON COUNTY BARS ORDERED CLOSED AGAIN
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that he has issued an executive order​, once again closing all bars in Monongalia County until further notice.

The order is effective immediately.

The new closure comes two days after bars in Mon County were permitted to open their doors for the first time since mid-July. On Monday, Gov. Justice said that state officials would be watching and monitoring progress closely, adding that if things “start to move in the wrong direction, we’ll shut them back down.”

“We all saw pictures from last night where students were congregating outside of bars in Mon County with no masks and no social distancing,” Gov. Justice said Wednesday. “The problem that we can absolutely identify and lay our hands on right real quick are our bars and house parties.”

The Governor added that health officials in Monongalia County have now identified 29 positive COVID-19 cases within 12 fraternities and sororities on WVU’s campus.

“Kids, you have got to listen to me. Please listen to your president, Gordon Gee. Please, kids, we have got to bear down here,” Gov. Justice said. “You are absolutely running the risk of killing somebody. This is not playtoy stuff. People are dying.”

The order keeps all Monongalia County bars closed for the on-premises consumption of food or drinks or occupancy by the general public. However, customers are still permitted to pick up food or drinks to be taken away.

The order maintains that patrons are allowed to be seated, for dining, at tables and bar tops within "bar areas" of restaurants, hotels, and other similar facilities, subject to the same limitations that are in place for restaurants.

The countywide bar closure will remain in place until lifted by further executive order.

For more information, click here to view an advisory from the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration.
NURSING SCHOLARSHIP FUNDING
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that he is committing $92,500 to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission to fully fund the West Virginia Nursing Scholarship Program for this year.

“Our nurses work super hard,” Gov. Justice said. “There are fees that are collected from our nurses that go into a scholarship program. But they shouldn’t have to worry about these fees right now. 

“They are heroes, that’s all there is to it,” Gov. Justice continued. “Think about waking up and knowing you’re walking into the fire. These people have courage and bravery like you can’t imagine.”

This fall, the program awarded nearly 100 students with scholarships ranging from $800 to $4,000. The funds awarded by Gov. Justice will support nursing students at colleges and universities across the state.

“It’s a good day for me to be able to provide them with a little bit of help during these tough times,” Gov. Justice said. 
GOV. JUSTICE, MAJ. GEN. HOYER HONOR WORLD WAR II VETERANS ON 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF V-J DAY
Gov. Justice took time out of his briefing today to honor all World War II veterans – in West Virginia and across the nation – on the 75th Anniversary of the end of the war.

On September 2, 1945, formal surrender documents were signed aboard the USS Missouri, designating the day as the official Victory over Japan Day.

West Virginia reported the 5th-highest percentage of servicemen during the war, with 218,665 West Virginians serving in the armed forces. A total of 5,830 West Virginians were killed in World War II.

Eleven West Virginians were awarded Medals of Honor for their service.

Today, churches across West Virginia will ring their bells at 7 p.m. to mark the occasion.

“This is such a precious day for us,” Gov. Justice said. “I would hope and pray that every West Virginian, no matter where you are or what’s on your mind, would just take a moment at 7 o’clock to remember all the brave men and women who gave us our continued freedom.”
West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, also provided remarks in commemoration of the anniversary.

“On Memorial Day of this year, less than 325,000 of the 16 million men and women who served in the United States military during World War II are still with us today,” Maj. Gen. Hoyer said. “One of those is our own, 96-year-old Woody Williams, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, the last remaining Medal of Honor recipient from Iwo Jima. Because of the sacrifices that generation made, we coined them the greatest generation. We owe so much to them, our Korea veterans, our Vietnam veterans, for the sacrifices they made. I would ask, on behalf of all those on the front lines of this COVID-19 response, it is time for us to step up and show the greatest generation that we, too, can make the sacrifices that we need to get through this worldwide pandemic and get West Virginia back to where it needs to be.”
COUNTY ALERT MAP: WEDNESDAY UPDATE
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice provided an updated look at West Virginia’s latest County Alert System color-coded map.

The map is updated live on the DHHR’s COVID-19 Dashboard (Click "County Alert System" tab) throughout the week for purely informational purposes and to provide an indication of how each county is trending ahead of each Saturday at 9 p.m.; the time when each county is assigned its official color designation for the next week, which determines the level of scholastic, athletic, and extracurricular activities permitted in each county for that particular week.

As of Wednesday morning, a total of 33 counties were green, while 18 counties were yellow.

Five counties were orange: Fayette, Kanawha, Logan, Mingo, and Monongalia counties.

One county was red: Monroe County.
COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS UPDATE
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that West Virginia’s statewide rate of COVID-19 transmission – also known as Rt – has increased to 1.22, tied for the 3rd-worst such rate in the country.

“Our Rt got as low as 0.85 and we were tied for 3rd-best in the country not all that long ago,” Gov. Justice said. “It just shows how fluid this is, how fast things can change, and why we cannot let our guard down for even a second.”

The Governor added that West Virginia's number of active cases has reached a new record high of 2,146. Still, West Virginia’s COVID-19 numbers have been among the best in the nation. West Virginia has outperformed the national average, as well as the rates of all of its bordering states, in percentage of population tested, percentage of population positive, percentage of positive test results, and case fatality rate.

Click here to view the latest COVID-19 data
CORRECTIONS FACILITIES UPDATE
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation is continuing enhanced testing efforts at Mount Olive Correctional Complex in Fayette County.

Mount Olive currently has 143 active cases of COVID-19 among inmates. Meanwhile, South Central Regional Jail in Kanawha County has four active cases and Western Regional Jail in Cabell County has one active case among their inmate populations.

Across the entire DCR system, a total of 28 employees have active cases at this time.

Click here to view the latest corrections facility update
UPDATE ON CHURCHES, LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES, AND SCHOOLS
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia now has four active outbreaks related to churches in four counties, after a new such outbreak was identified in Wayne County.

Church-related outbreaks also remain active in Cabell, Monroe, and Wyoming counties.

Meanwhile, the Governor added that there are now 34 outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state, down from 36 on Monday.

The Governor went on to report that positive cases of COVID-19 have been identified among staff members at two schools in the state.

Two teachers from Point Pleasant Primary School in Mason County recently tested positive. The first day of instruction at this facility has been postponed to Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020.

Five staff members from Mingo Central High School in Mingo County recently tested positive as well.
CITIES/COUNTIES GRANTS: OVER $100 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 $100.5 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.
SMALL BUSINESS GRANTS: OVER $12 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 3,100 applications have been submitted, with more than $12 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 has also opened up the 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.
WEST VIRGINIA REMAINS AMONG NATIONAL LEADERS IN CENSUS RESPONSE RATE; ALL URGED TO PARTICIPATE
Once more today, Gov. Justice asked all West Virginians to participate in the 2020 United States Census.

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

To date, 94.2 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.
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:
  • Cabell County
  • Doddridge County
  • Jackson County
  • Logan County
  • Monroe County
  • Morgan County
  • Nicholas County
  • Raleigh County
Click here to view dates and additional details
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.
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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