COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice announces reopening date for West Virginia schools

7/8/2020

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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 REOPENING DATE MOVED TO SEPT. 8
With the daily number of new COVID-19 cases continuing to climb in recent days, Gov. Justice announced Wednesday that he and State education leaders are now targeting Sept. 8, 2020, as the tentative date to resume student instruction in school buildings in all 55 counties across West Virginia.

“No one wants us to go back to school more than I do,” Gov. Justice said. “But, at the end of the day, I’m going to do what I think is the best thing and safest thing for our kids. And I am not going to move forward with going back to school until I am absolutely as sure as I can be that our kids, teachers, service personnel, and parents are going to be safe.

“Everyone has got to realize that this situation is a moving target like you can’t imagine,” Gov. Justice continued. “The more information we have and the longer that we can push this out, the better off we’ll all be. With our cases exploding to the upside, if we were to rush this and go back to school in two or three weeks, in my opinion it’s the wrong decision because we just don’t know what's going to happen. We have to buy some time.”

The Governor added that officials with the West Virginia Department of Education, including Superintendent Clayton Burch, have conceptualized a condensed student instruction calendar, starting Sept. 8, that would provide 180 days of instruction while still allowing the school year to conclude by the end of May.

Gov. Justice also said that he has been in discussions with leaders from the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission about plans to potentially push back the fall sports calendar. Additional information will be provided at a later date.

 

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SMALL BUSINESS GRANT FUNDING UPDATE
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that plans are in the works to expand the Governor’s recently announced initiative to provide $150 million of the state’s federal CARES Act funding to small businesses across West Virginia.

Previously, the Governor announced that only businesses with 5-35 employees would be able to apply for this funding. But Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that he intends to expand the scope of his initiative to allow all businesses with 1-35 employees to be able to apply.

“What we’re going to do is start with being able to send out $5,000 to all of those that qualify,” Gov. Justice said. “And then, the dollars that are leftover from the $150 million – as well as any other dollars that we might possibly be able to add – we’re going to go back and distribute those dollars equally across the board.”

The Governor said that additional details, including more information on the process for applying, will be provided soon.

 

INDOOR FACE COVERING REQUIREMENTS REVISITED
Once again Wednesday, Gov. Justice discussed his recent executive order establishing a statewide indoor face covering requirement across West Virginia. 

The order requires all West Virginians age 9 and older to wear a face covering at all indoor public places where six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained.

“We absolutely have got to be as strong as we possibly can about wearing our masks or our face coverings in any public building,” Gov. Justice said. “We have got to have you do that right now.

“I trust West Virginians can handle that on an honor system,” Gov. Justice continued. “We do not want this terrible killer right in our backdoor. It is something we should be concerned about as we move forward.”

Gov. Justice again pointed out that data from the COVID-19 dashboard shows case numbers that are as high as West Virginia has seen since the start of the pandemic.

“Look at the way we’re moving. It’s why we’ve got to wear our masks,” Gov. Justice said. “I don’t like them. They’re inconvenient. But unless we’re going to move toward shutting down our restaurants, bars, and different things around our state again, we’ve got to do this.”

The face covering requirement does not apply to anyone who has trouble breathing or anyone who is otherwise unable to remove their own face covering without assistance. Click here to read more about the executive order.

 

CITIES/COUNTIES GRANT FUNDING: $32 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 $32 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.

 

MYRTLE BEACH CASES
Once again on Wednesday, Gov. Justice discussed the recent surge in COVID-19 cases being seen at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, again cautioning residents who are considering traveling to the popular vacation destination that there are now cases in 30 West Virginia counties, with at least 140 cases that are tied to residents traveling to the Myrtle Beach area.

UPCOMING FREE COMMUNITY TESTING: MARSHALL, MERCER, MONONGALIA, PRESTON, UPSHUR, AND WAYNE COUNTIES
Additionally during his briefing, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that the next round of free community COVID-19 testing will be provided later this week – Friday, July 10 and 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
Friday, July 10
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
McMechen City Hall: 325 Logan Street, McMechen, WV 26040
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
Friday, July 10
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Morgantown Farmer’s Market (Downtown): 400 Spruce Street, Morgantown, WV 26505
Saturday, July 11
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Mountainview Elementary School: 661 Green Bag Road, Morgantown, WV 26508

Preston County
Friday, July 10 & Saturday, July 11
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Kingwood Elementary School: 207 South Price Street, Kingwood, WV 26537

Upshur County
Friday, July 10 & Saturday, July 11

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

Wayne County
Friday, July 10
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Dunlow Community Center: 1475 Left Fork Dunlow Bypass Road, Dunlow, WV 25511
Saturday, July 11
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Wayne Elementary School: 80 McGinnis Drive, Wayne, WV 25570

 

 

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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