COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice announces orange counties will move to remote instruction; pays tribute on 19th anniversary of 9/11 attacks

9/11/2020

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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.
SCHOOLS IN ORANGE COUNTIES TO MOVE TO REMOTE INSTRUCTION
Citing rising case numbers during his Friday COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Justice announced that, going forward, schools in counties designated as orange in the West Virginia Department of Education’s official 5 p.m. Saturday update of the County Alert Map will stop in-person instruction and move to a full-remote learning model.

“We've got to continue to work together as West Virginians because our numbers are going the wrong way,” Gov. Justice said. “We've got to continue to try to protect the health and the safety of all West Virginians. And, in my opinion, it is not safe, with our numbers trending the way they are, to continue to go to school if we’re in orange.”

Athletic and extracurricular activities will be limited to conditioning only when a county is orange. No sport-specific or contact practices will be permitted. Marching band activities must be limited to outdoors only. Instruments are permitted only when students are stationary and distanced in pods. The WVSSAC will release additional guidance documents soon.

A mid-week color status change from green or yellow to orange, as reported on the DHHR Dashboard, would not immediately trigger these restrictions. Countywide restrictions under an orange designation only take effect if a county is classified as orange on the WVDE’s official Saturday map update.

These restrictions will only be lifted if and when a county reaches green or yellow status in a subsequent official Saturday map update. 

Mid-week color status only comes into play if a county reaches a red designation. If a county reaches red status, all in-person activities are halted immediately, regardless of the day of the week.

The change comes as a result of increases in several categories of COVID-19 numbers. Additionally, West Virginia’s statewide rate of COVID-19 transmission – also known as Rt – increased Friday afternoon to 1.42; the highest and worst such rate in the country.

“We’ve all got to step up our level of concern,” Gov. Justice said. “To just tell it like it is, we've got to get afraid again. We’ve gotten complacent.

“If we don't watch out, it'll come home to some families tomorrow,” Gov. Justice continued. “Those families are full of real people. They have names. They’re West Virginians. All of us have got to take responsibility.”
FRIDAY MAP UPDATE
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice provided a look at West Virginia’s latest mid-week map update.

The map is updated live on the DHHR’s COVID-19 Dashboard (Click "County Alert System" tab) throughout the week for informational purposes and to provide an indication of how each county is trending ahead of each Saturday; 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 Friday morning, a total of 24 counties were green, while 20 counties were yellow.

Ten counties were orange: Boone, Calhoun, Fayette, Kanawha, Logan, Mingo, Monroe, Pocahontas, Putnam, and Wayne counties.

One county was red: Monongalia County.
GOV. JUSTICE HONORS LIVES LOST ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001; COMMEMORATES 19TH ANNIVERSARY OF ATTACK
Also on Friday, the 19th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, Gov. Justice took time to pay tribute to all those who lost their lives in New York, Washington, D.C., and southwestern Pennsylvania.

“This is a day that will live with us forever,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s hard to believe that 19 years have passed. It seems like it was just yesterday when I got the call.

“We lost nearly 3,000 people,” Gov. Justice continued. “And two of those great people were West Virginians: Paul Ambrose and Mary Lou Hague.”

Earlier Friday, Gov. Justice and the parents of Dr. Paul Ambrose rang a ceremonial bell four times in honor of each of the four planes that crashed on that fateful day and all who lost their lives in the attack.

READ MORE: Gov. Justice honors graduates of West Virginia State Police’s 68th Cadet Class; participates in bell-ringing to commemorate lives lost in 9/11 attacks

“We will never forget the images of the brave firefighters, police officers, and other emergency responders who put their lives on the line, some paying the ultimate price, to help their fellow Americans in need,” Gov. Justice said. “On this solemn anniversary, we honor the ultimate selflessness displayed by so many heroes that day. They showed what it truly means to run to the fire when others are in peril.”

“Today, we carry on their legacy by continuing to run to the fire when people are in trouble. Whether it’s serving on the front lines of a pandemic or facing another danger head-on, our courageous first responders in West Virginia and all across the country continue to embrace their patriotic duty of putting others before themselves. We can never thank them enough for all they do to keep us safe and we continue to keep these heroes, past and present, in our thoughts and prayers.”
WEST VIRGINIA HEROES DAY PROCLAMATION
Additionally on Friday, Gov. Justice announced that, in honor of all West Virginia heroes, past and present he has issued a proclamation, officially declaring this coming Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, as Heroes Day in West Virginia.

This annual observance – held on the second Saturday of each September – celebrates the bravery and sacrifice of first responders in West Virginia; including firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical services workers, and 911 telecommunicators.

“If you just think about the bravery and the sacrifice of our first responders in West Virginia, you know how courageous all these people are,” Gov. Justice said. “So we dedicate this day to each and every one of them.”
SCHOOL PPE DELIVERY; SAFETY KITS FOR SCHOOL NURSES
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice announced that all public schools in West Virginia have received a combined total of 318,000 cloth masks – delivered to each county's school superintendent in June in preparation for the school year. 

The state's 27 higher education institutions also received a combined total of 100,000 total cloth masks – delivered directly to each institution.

All 55 county Emergency Operations Centers also received a total of 753,000 cloth masks.

The total distribution of these masks exceeds 1.1 million.

Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice announced that, at his direction, the West Virginia National Guard has put together kits for every school nurse in all public schools across the state, consisting of N-95 masks, gloves, and gowns.
WORKFORCE WEST VIRGINIA UPDATE
During his remarks Friday, WorkForce West Virginia Acting Commissioner Scott Adkins announced that FEMA has ended its Lost Wages Assistance Program, which provided an additional $300 a week in unemployment benefits to qualified claimants in West Virginia and other states.

WorkForce West Virginia will continue to pay eligible claimants for as long as existing FEMA funds are available, but agency officials say they are unable to extend the additional benefits beyond the benefits week ending on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020.

"Losing this extra $300 a week will certainly create hardships for people who've lost wages due to COVID-19," Adkins said. "But folks can be assured that WorkForce West Virginia will continue to distribute regular state benefits and any remaining federal benefits available through the CARES Act."

Click here to read more
ALCOHOL BEVERAGE CONTROL ADMINISTRATION TO TRAIN NEW ENFORCEMENT AGENTS
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice announced that, at his direction, the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Investigations Division, under the Department of Homeland Security, is loaning the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration additional personnel that will be trained as Enforcement Agents.

This will ensure the ABC has more manpower to enforce alcohol laws and to make sure that safety protocols are being followed.
OUTBREAK REPORT
On Friday, Gov. Justice announced that five church-related outbreaks currently remain active in four counties: Kanawha, Monroe, Wayne, and Wyoming counties.

There are now 39 outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state, down from 32 on Wednesday.

Within corrections facilities, Mount Olive Correctional Complex in Fayette County saw its number of active COVID-19 cases drop to 15.

South Central Regional Jail in Kanawha County and Western Regional Jail in Cabell County no longer have any active case among their inmate populations.

Across the entire DCR system, the number of active cases among employees has decreased to 28.

Click here to view the latest corrections facility update
FEMA ADMINISTRATOR VISIT
Also Friday, Gov. Justice announced that he met yesterday with FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor during a visit to West Virginia.

"We were able to talk and everything and I thank him for his assistance," Gov. Justice said. "He pledged to us that he would continue to try to help West Virginia in every way possible."
GOVERNOR SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice signed Executive Order 69-20, relating to the suspension of CSR § 143-1-14.3a as it applies to employees of DHHR.
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, 98.1 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.
SMALL BUSINESS GRANTS: OVER $14 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 3,600 applications have been submitted, with more than $14 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.
CITIES/COUNTIES GRANT FUNDING: OVER $106 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 $106 million has now been awarded all across the state. To date, 191 cities and counties have applied for this grant funding.

web portal is available for city and county government officials to apply. 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 West Virginia State Auditor’s Office COVID-19 transparency website.
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.
    Click here to view locations, dates, and additional details
    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.
    Click here to view photo album

    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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