COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice, WVSSAC director discuss plans for fall sports and activities; Amjad appointed as new State Health Officer

7/10/2020

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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.

HIGH SCHOOL & MIDDLE SCHOOL FALL SPORTS AND OTHER ACTIVITIES
With the daily number of new COVID-19 cases continuing to climb, Gov. Justice joined West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission (WVSSAC) Executive Director Bernie Dolan during his briefing on Friday to discuss current plans for high school and middle school sports, cheerleading, and marching band activities for the fall season.

“No one wants sports and activities to be going on more than Bernie and I do,” Gov. Justice said. “We absolutely want our kids back in school. But we want to do it in a way that we know is as safe as we can possibly make it for our students, as well as those who are working with our students like our teachers and service personnel.

“Bernie and I surely recognize the importance of sports,” Gov. Justice continued. “They give us so much. They teach us so many life lessons. They’re important to our communities, they bring us together. But, at the same time, we need to be safe.”

In accordance with the Governor’s announcement Wednesday that the beginning of the school year would be adjusted to Sept. 8, 2020, Dolan announced Friday that the fall sports and activities calendar would also be adjusted.

“We are pushing back our practice dates,” Dolan said. “Instead of starting on August 3rd – the date most fall sports practices would’ve started except volleyball – we’re moving the start of all of our practice activities to August 17th.”

Dolan announced that, under the current plan, golf would be the first sport to resume competition because its participants are adequately able to socially distance from one another during matches. There is also less practice time required to resume competition for golf. As a result, golf is currently scheduled to tee off its season on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020.

Competitions for volleyball, cheerleading, cross-country, and soccer are currently scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020.

Football games would be able to start as early as Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, under the WVSSAC’s current plan.

Dolan added that competition attendees will have to follow additional safety guidelines, which will vary based on the type of sport and the facility in which it is being played but will likely include social distancing and the wearing of masks, to keep all participants and visitors as safe as possible.

Any additional WVSSAC guidelines will be provided on online as soon as they become available.

“I tell people, it’s up to the public to decide whether or not we are going to have athletics come this fall,” Dolan said. “Because you’re the one who will wear the masks.

“It sounds like it’s an easy thing to do for everybody to get on board,” Dolan continued. “So, if you are the one who’s not socially distancing, not wearing a mask, you very well could be the one – you are setting an example for somebody not to follow and then that hurts all of our chances of participating.”

Click to read more: Statewide Indoor Face Covering Requirement

“We all know that we may have to change again,” Gov. Justice said. “We do not know what this is going to do. There is no playbook here.

“But we hope and pray that we’ll be ready to go and we’ve got to have a plan of what we’re going to be able to do...if we can,” Gov. Justice continued. “I want to emphasize ‘if we can.’ We’re going to do it safely. We’re going to do it right. We’re going to protect our kids in every way.”

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AMJAD APPOINTED AS NEW STATE HEALTH OFFICER & BPH COMMISSIONER
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice announced that Dr. Ayne Amjad, M.D., M.P.H., has been appointed as West Virginia’s newest State Health Officer and Commissioner of the DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health.

“She is absolutely a star beyond belief,” Gov. Justice said. “I could not be any happier.”

Since 2010, Dr. Amjad, of Beckley, has been a private practice physician specializing in internal medicine and preventive health care serving residents in Beckley, Oak Hill, and Princeton. She has also served as the assistant program director of Encompass Health in Princeton and the medical director of PCH Home Care in Beckley.

“She is excited about being a part of this team and we are really, really proud to have her,” Gov. Justice said. “I’m sure she’ll be a tremendous, tremendous help.”

Dr. Amjad holds a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Virginia Tech, a master’s degree in public health from West Virginia University, an M.D. from Marshall University, and studied internal medicine at Allegheny General Hospital.

“I am excited to be a part of the team,” Dr. Amjad said. “We’ll get started right away to address everything that needs to get done.”

Click here to read more

 

APPLICATIONS: WV CARES ACT SMALL BUSINESS GRANT PROGRAM
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice offered more information about his initiative to provide $150 million of West Virginia’s CARES Act funding to small businesses across the state.

Earlier this week, Gov. Justice announced that he had expanded the scope of his initiative, to allow all businesses with 1-35 employees to be able to apply for grants of up to $5,000 each. The original proposal made it so that only businesses with 5-35 employees would be eligible.

The Governor announced that guidelines for the grants and instructions on how to apply would be available Friday evening on Grants.wv.gov. Businesses planning to apply must first register as a vendor with the State. Online vendor registration is available.

Applying businesses must have existed on Feb. 29, 2020 to be eligible.

Applications will be available as early as next Monday, July 13, 2020.

 

CARES ACT DISTRIBUTION ADJUSTMENTS
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice announced adjustments to his plan to distribute the $1.25 billion in federal funding that the State received through the CARES Act.

“There is one area that we want to get money to and that’s our broadband,” Gov. Justice said. “I’ve met several different times with our legislators. They’ve given really good input and I appreciate it.”

The Governor announced that he is now calling for $50 million to be put toward broadband projects across the state. These projects will improve access to telemedicine, virtual learning, and more, particularly in rural areas.

This funding will be taken from the $100 million originally proposed to go toward the Division of Highways to use on projects to improve access to medical facilities. However, after meeting with DOH leadership, Gov. Justice opted instead to provide $50 million for these projects up-front, with a potential phasing-in of additional funds in the future.

“As we go forward, if we have more money available, then we can backfill the $50 million that we’re using on the broadband side,” Gov. Justice said.

 

GOVERNOR URGES EXTRA CAUTION IN MONONGALIA COUNTY
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice reported that, as the number of COVID-19 cases across the state have increased in recent weeks, the area that has seen the most significant uptick in new cases has been Monongalia County.

With 282 current active cases in Monongalia County alone, Gov. Justice said Friday that he and state health officials are watching the region’s numbers very closely. 

“We have to be looking, now, at the possibility of closing our bars and indoor dining, unless we get a real movement in our favor,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re also going to have to start looking at restricting our gatherings toward a smaller number statewide. It’s the very last thing that we want to do.

“I am pleading with everyone in Mon County and across the state, please, please wear your mask,” Gov. Justice continued. “We’re making great strides. If you go into the store, you see that people are doing a lot better. But we need to be almost flawless. If we don’t, absolutely, we’re going to have more people get sick.”

Click to read more: Statewide Indoor Face Covering Requirement

 

TAX FILING DEADLINE NEXT WEDNESDAY: JULY 15, 2020
Gov. Justice also took time out of his address Friday to remind all West Virginians that income tax returns, which were originally due April 15, 2020, are now due next Wednesday, July 15, 2020.

On March 26, 2020, Gov. Jim Justice extended the April 15, 2020 filing deadline by three months in response to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor’s decision conforms with federal income tax relief provisions issued March 20 by the Internal Revenue Service in response to the coronavirus.

This three-month extension applies to income taxes and returns for individuals, corporations, fiduciaries, and pass-through entities, including declarations of estimated tax that would have been due April 15, 2020. If the taxes due April 15, 2020 are paid by July 15, 2020, no interest or additions to tax will apply.

More information is available at Tax.wv.gov.

 

UPCOMING FREE COMMUNITY TESTING: MARSHALL, MERCER, MONONGALIA, PRESTON, UPSHUR, AND WAYNE COUNTIES
Additionally during his briefing, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that the latest round of free community COVID-19 testing continues tomorrow – Saturday, July 11 – in Marshall, Mercer, Monongalia, Preston, Upshur, and Wayne 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.

Testing is scheduled as follows:

Marshall County
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
Saturday, July 11
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Mountainview Elementary School: 661 Green Bag Road, Morgantown, WV 26508

Preston County
Saturday, July 11
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Kingwood Elementary School: 207 South Price Street, Kingwood, WV 26537

Upshur County
Saturday, July 11
10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Buckhannon-Upshur High School: 270 B-U Drive, Buckhannon, WV 26201 
Saturday, July 11
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
78 Queens Alley, Rock Cave, WV 26234 

Wayne County
Saturday, July 11
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Wayne Elementary School: 80 McGinnis Drive, Wayne, WV 25570

 

 

 

UPCOMING FREE COMMUNITY TESTING: BARBOUR, HARRISON, AND MERCER COUNTIES
Gov. Justice also announced that the next rounds of free community COVID-19 testing will continue through next week at various dates and times in Barbour, Harrison, and Mercer counties.

Testing is scheduled as follows:

Barbour County
Thursday, July 16

11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Philip Barbour High School: 99 Horseshoe Drive, Philippi, WV 26416

Harrison County
Tuesday, July 14

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

Mercer County
Friday, July 17

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

 

CITIES/COUNTIES GRANT FUNDING: $38 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 $38 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 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.

 

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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