COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice: “We’re trying to be ready in every way we can possibly be”

3/16/2020

​CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice joined State health, education, and emergency response leaders at the Capitol Complex in Charleston today, holding his latest press conference to continue updating West Virginians on the precautionary measures that are being taken in the interest of protecting the public from the potential spread of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in West Virginia. However, it’s anticipated that the disease will come to West Virginia soon. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is providing daily updates on the number of COVID-19 tests and any potential future cases. That information, along with additional alerts and updates, is available online at Coronavirus.wv.gov​​.

“In our state today, we have been really blessed and sheltered, but – without alarming everyone – we all need to know the seriousness of this continues to be real,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re still trying to do every single thing we can do to be proactive in a state that doesn’t have one positive confirmed person yet. We’re trying to be ready in every way we can possibly be.”

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Near the end of Monday’s press conference, President Donald J. Trump issued a set of new guidelines for all Americans for the next 15 days to slow the spread of COVID-19. This includes avoiding all social gatherings of more than 10 people. Gov. Justice fully supports all of President Trump’s guidelines and urges all West Virginians to follow them completely to ensure everyone is doing their part to help stop the potential spread of the disease.

Before Monday’s press conference, Gov. Justice and several of his cabinet officials took part in a video conference with President Trump, the governors of every state and territory in the country, and other national leaders to discuss preventative measures that are being taken to slow the spread of coronavirus, while also ensuring the public has what they need to live their day-to-day lives.
“I am urging all West Virginians, to stay calm, be smart, use great hygiene, take care of the elderly who you can help – for crying out loud – go to the grocery store for them and just try to look after them.

“The President assured us today that he has been meeting with the leaders of grocery stores across the country,” Gov. Justice continued. “Everyone needs to know that there’s gonna be plenty of food and groceries. You don’t need to make a mad rush on the grocery store.”

President Trump also told Gov. Justice and all video conference participants that Congress will likely pass legislation to make any potential COVID-19 testing free for all Americans.

During the Governor’s press conference Monday, he announced that due to the emerging health threat posed by COVID-19 and in accordance with President Donald J. Trump’s declaration of a National Emergency, he has declared a State of Emergency for all 55 counties in West Virginia.

Click here to view the proclamation​

“Declaring a State of Emergency will open up every resource we’ve got as a State that we can use to fight the spread of this disease,” Gov. Justice said. “This is yet another example of us being as proactive as we possibly can be, even though we don’t have a positive case yet. We are doing everything we can to be prepared so we can help protect all West Virginians.”
STATE OF EMERGENCY DETAILS:
The State of Emergency orders the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, West Virginia Division of Homeland Security, and Emergency Management and the West Virginia National Guard to mobilize appropriate personnel and resources to respond to the emergency. It also orders all other state agencies to assist as may be requested and to do everything reasonably possible to assist affected areas and people in the state.

The State of Emergency also delegates administrative powers to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, the Director of the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and the West Virginia National Guard, as necessary, to facilitate the provision of essential emergency services to alleviate the potential impacts to the people, property, and infrastructure of West Virginia that may be caused by this outbreak.

The State of Emergency also orders that it is unlawful for any person, business, or other entity to sell any food items, essential consumer items, and emergency supplies in a manner that violates the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act, which protects consumer from price gouging and unfair pricing practices during and shortly after a State of Emergency.​

The State of Emergency will remain in effect until it is terminated by further proclamation.
ADDITIONAL UPDATES:
During Monday’s press conference, Gov. Justice announced that he and members of his administration have begun working on a personnel policy for State employees that will officially be announced in the coming days.

The Governor also highlighted the West Virginia Department of Education’s successful opening today of more than 500 sites around the state to ensure children who require school breakfasts and lunches will receive meals during the recently announced statewide school closure for students, which is still scheduled to go on until at least through the end of next week.

Gov. Justice commended Attorney General Patrick Morrisey for his work to prevent fraud, scams, price gouging and other unscrupulous practices by those trying to illegally profit during this time of concern. The Governor also praised Public Service Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Lane for her efforts to ensure utility companies do not shut off utilities for people who are behind on their bills during this pandemic.

Finally during Monday’s address, Gov. Justice announced that he and health industry leaders are looking into ways that hospitals across West Virginia can coordinate resources to ensure that as many beds and as much equipment is available in the event of a potential community spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia.

Additionally Monday, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources published a news release further explaining the current COVID-19 testing criteria in West Virginia.

Further information will be provided as it becomes available.

The Governor and/or members of his administration will provide daily COVID-19 updates, Monday-Friday and on weekends as necessary, for the foreseeable future.

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.
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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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