COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice activates “Aggressive Testing” efforts in all Red and Orange counties

9/21/2020

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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.
“AGGRESSIVE TESTING” IN ALL RED & ORANGE COUNTIES
During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that he has directed the West Virginia National Guard and West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to immediately begin working alongside local health departments to activate “Aggressive Testing” efforts in all Red and Orange counties across the state.

“We all know that we’re still having counties that are struggling with cases. So we need to do something about it,” Gov. Justice said. “And to be able to do something about it, we’ve got to know where the problems are. You’ll never, ever get out of any hole unless you know how deep in the hole you are.

“So how do we really find out exactly where the problems are and what to do? We test,” Gov. Justice said. “The more we test, the more we know.”

The Governor explained that, as part of his Aggressive Testing efforts, any time a county moves to Red or Orange status, free testing will be set up in that county within 24 hours. Testing in these counties will be offered on a continual basis until their numbers improve.

Any time a county moves to Gold status, at least one free testing event per week will be held in that county until their numbers improve.

“Additional testing will significantly help your numbers when it comes to lowering your positivity rate,” Gov. Justice said. “A perfect example is Cabell County. By having additional testing, they moved all the way into the Green.

“I encourage all kids as well as adults to go get tested,” Gov. Justice continued. “It will also help all of us because it will help identify some situation where we have an asymptomatic person, with no idea that they have this disease, but they got it and they’re walking around, spreading it to others.”
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FREE COVID-19 TESTING SITES
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice provided an update on 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.

This testing is available to all residents in selected counties, including asymptomatic individuals. Proof of insurance is not required. Attendees should bring identification, such as a driver’s license or proof of address, to help in returning test results. Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Click here to view all locations, dates, times and more details
COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS UPDATE
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice reported modest improvement in certain case metrics.

As of today, the daily positivity rate of cases has dropped to 2.03 percent. Additionally, a the total number of hospitalized patients has decreased since the end of last week.

Meanwhile, West Virginia’s statewide rate of COVID-19 transmission – also known as Rt – has improved to 1.08; the 37th-best such rate in the country. 

West Virginia continues to outperform the national average – as well as the rates of all of its bordering states – in percentage of population tested, percentage of population positive, and percentage of positive test results.

However, Gov. Justice also reported Monday that the state had once again reached a record high in active COVID-19 cases with 3,544.

Click here to view the latest COVID-19 data
REVIEW OF LATEST DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SATURDAY MAP UPDATE
Additionally Monday, Gov. Justice reviewed this past Saturday’s 5 p.m West Virginia Department of Education color-coded School Alert System map update, which determines the level of scholastic, athletic, and extracurricular activities permitted in each county for that particular week.

The results of the update on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, were as follows:

Four counties were classified as Red: Fayette, Kanawha, Mingo, and Putnam counties.

Two counties were classified as Orange: Boone and Monongalia counties.

Three counties were classified as Gold: Logan, Ohio, and Wyoming counties.

Of the remaining counties, 26 were classified as Yellow, while 20 were classified as Green.

State health leaders who make up the COVID-19 Data Review Panel verified the data to ensure the map was a true indication of the safety level in each county.
OUTBREAK REPORT
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice reported that nine cases of COVID-19 remain active at Mount Olive Correctional Complex in Fayette County.

Across the entire Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) system, there remain 16 active cases among employees, 11 of whom work at Mount Olive.

Out of an abundance of caution, all DCR and contract employees at Mount Olive who have not previously tested positive will be retested. Additionally, all inmates in the two housing units with active cases will be retested this week.

The West Virginia National Guard continues sanitization efforts at Mount Olive. 

No other corrections facilities currently have any known active cases.

Click here to view the latest corrections facility update

Meanwhile, Gov. Justice announced that a total of six church-related outbreaks remain active in six counties across the state: Fayette, Harrison, Kanawha, Mingo, Nicholas, and Wayne counties.

Additionally, there are now 38 outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state, down from 30 on Friday.
GAME CHANGER PREMIERE CHANGING THE GAME
Also, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks to remind West Virginians that Monday marked the live premiere the Game Changer initiative’s virtual summit on opioids and substance use disorder.

Game Changer is aimed at tackling opioid and substance use, along with other issues impacting West Virginia’s youth.

Monday's summit addressed these issues with several inspiring performances by the top trauma-informed speakers across the country.

“This is another tool that we have now in the toolbox to motivate kids to be leaders and examples of goodness,” Gov. Justice said. “I encourage our kids, teachers, and all West Virginians to watch.”

Rebroadcasts of the summit will be viewable on Sept. 22-24 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at events.wvgamechanger.com.

Beginning Monday, Sept. 28, the summit will be available on-demand at the main Game Changer website.
KAYAKER RESCUED
Additionally Monday, Gov. Justice took time to offer his appreciation to all those involved in saving the life of a kayaker over the weekend.

“A man from Tennessee came up missing yesterday while kayaking at Kanawha Falls on the Kanawha River in Fayette County,” Gov. Justice said. “After several hours of searching, there was no sign of him and it appeared he may have drowned.

“But that’s when a whitewater expert from Fayette County named Corey Lilly stepped forward,” Gov. Justice continued. “Corey knows the river. When he heard someone was missing, he believed the kayaker may have gotten stuck in a particular section of the river behind a waterfall.

“So Corey and two friends worked with our DNR Police and made their way to that spot. And, lo and behold, there was the kayaker, stuck in a crevice and screaming for help. But he was alive.”

The Fayette County Swiftwater Rescue Team was able to pull this man to safety just after 1 a.m. this morning. The man was hospitalized for hypothermia, but is expected to make a full recovery.

“Corey and all these others turned what was looking like a real tragedy into a genuine miracle,” Gov. Justice said. “As I’ve said over and over, we owe so much to our first responders. From the bottom of my heart I thank our DNR Police, the Fayette rescue team and all the other first responders and volunteers involved.”
GOVERNOR OFFERS CONDOLENCES ON DEATH OF SUPREME COURT JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG
Additionally Monday, Gov. Justice took time to offer his condolences and prayers after the death of United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week.

“Cathy and I send our deepest sympathies and prayers to the family and loved ones of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Gov. Justice said. “Her dedication to public service left a profound impact on our country and she will be greatly missed.”

Gov. Justice has issued a proclamation​in accordance with President Donald J. Trump’s proclamation, ordering that all United States and West Virginia flags on all State-owned facilities throughout the state be displayed at half-staff until the day of her interment.
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 is tied with Idaho for the #1 best U.S. Census response rate in the country.

To date, 99.8 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 $18 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 6,900 applications have been submitted, with more than $18 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 $113 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 $113 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.
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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