COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice orders more closures; calls for increased blood donations

3/20/2020

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CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice joined State health leaders at the Capitol Complex in Charleston today for a virtual press briefing to once again update the public on the many precautionary measures being taken in the interest of protecting the public from the potential spread of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).


CLOSURE OF STATE PARK LODGES, HATFIELD MCCOY TRAIL
During his remarks, the Governor announced that he has issued an Executive Order, mandating the statewide closure of all West Virginia state park lodges as well as the closure of the Hatfield McCoy Trail to the general public.

Click here to view the Executive Order on the Governor's website

This order will officially go into effect tonight at midnight.

This closure only pertains to lodges and the Hatfield McCoy Trail specifically. It does not mandate the closure of entire state parks, campsites, or cabins.

“We want you to enjoy the parks. We want you to get outside. We want you to bike and hike and fish. But you just need to stay away from people,” Gov. Justice said. “Taking in the wonderful, pristine air from our parks can be very calming.

“Absolutely go to our parks and enjoy the parks. We’ve just got to close down our lodges.”


Gov. Justice also announced that trout stockings around the state will continue as planned. Gov. Justice urges West Virginians to participate by casting a line at their favorite West Virginia state park.


 

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SUSPENSION OF SEVERAL STATUTORY RULES
Also during the briefing, Gov. Justice announced that he has also issued an Executive Order, mandating the suspension of several statutory regulations. These include:

  • Suspending the requirement that any medical provider "hold an active, unexpired license" issued by the Board of Medicine, with the exception of those with pending complaints, investigations, consent orders, board orders, or pending disciplinary proceedings.
  • Suspending the requirement for telemedicine providers to be licensed in West Virginia, provided that such provider possesses a license within their own state.
  • Suspending the requirement that medical licenses are only valid for two years.
  • Suspending the requirement that an educational permit is only valid for one year.
  • Suspending the requirements for Physician Assistants licensure, reinstatement of licenses, written authorizations from the boards, collaboration limits, and collaborative agreements.
  • Suspending the requirements that boards of examination or registration conduct investigations and adjudication of complaints of professional and occupational misconduct in specific timeframes.
  • Suspending the requirement that any person to practice or offer to practice medicine or surgery as an osteopathic physician or surgeon "hold an active, unexpired license" issued by the Board of Osteopathic Medicine, with the exception of those with pending complaints, investigations, consent orders, board orders, or pending disciplinary proceedings.
  • Suspending the requirement for post-graduate training that will no longer be available after July 1, 2020 and the requirement that individuals graduating from ACGME programs have to complete 40 hours of Continuing Medical Education prior to licensure.
  • Suspending the requirement that physicians biennially furnish proof of completion of 32 hours of continuing medical education prior to renewal.
  • Suspending the requirement that the first educational permit issued be valid for a period of 15 months and subsequent educational permits issued to the same person may be valid for not more than 12 months.
  • Suspending the requirement that telemedicine be performed by video only.
  • Suspending the procedures for applications for licensure by out-of-state medical practitioners under the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.
  • Suspending vehicle size and weight limitations.
  • Suspending the deadlines for annual vehicle inspections.
  • Suspending the deadlines for renewal and payment of annual fees for video lottery machines.
  • Suspending the deadline to renew permits from Alcohol Beverage Control Administration.
  • Suspending any other statute or rule that prescribes time limits or deadlines by which state agencies or political subdivisions or agencies thereunder must hold hearings, and allowing abeyance of such hearings or for such hearings to be conducted by telephonic means, at the sole discretion of the applicable state agency or political subdivision or agencies thereunder.

Click here to view the Executive Order on the Governor's website


GOV. JUSTICE ENCOURAGING BLOOD DONATIONS
The Governor also announced today that The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during the COVID-19 outbreak. As the COVID-19 pandemic has grown in the U.S., blood drive cancellations have grown at an alarming rate. Healthy individuals are needed to donate now to help patients counting on lifesaving blood. 

The Red Cross has implemented additional precautions to ensure the safety of donors and staff. The Red Cross only collects blood from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation. Donating blood does not impact or weaken the immune system.

If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment to donate as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Drives are being updated constantly so you can find a blood drive.

 


TOURISM OFFICE UNVEILS MAP OF OPEN RESTAURANTS
Today, the Governor also announced that the West Virginia Tourism Office has launched an interactive map of open restaurants that shows the locations of all eateries in the state that are continuing to operate drive thru, carryout, and delivery services at this time.

Click here to view this new interactive dining guide

 


DHHR REQUESTS SUSPENSION OF DRUG TESTS FOR TANF APPLICANTS
Today, at the direction of the Governor, the Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Children and Families requested the immediate suspension of the rule requiring applicants of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to participate in drug screening, which often requires close contact between multiple individuals.

Click here to view the request on the Governor's website​


HIGHER-ED SYSTEMS PROVIDING FINANCIAL AID FLEXIBILITY
Also today, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and Council for Community and Technical College Education voted to provide students with greater flexibilities in accessing and renewing state financial aid programs. This move comes as higher education institutions across the state continue adjusting methods for course delivery this semester in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia, with many transitioning to online or other non-face-to-face methods for their classes.

A summary of ongoing changes being made across West Virginia’s college campuses to prevent the spread of COVID-19 can be found at wvhepc.edu/coronavirus.


MORE INFORMATION ON PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
Following Gov. Justice's announcement yesterday that the state has purchased 100,000 N95 surgical masks and 275 sets of highly protective Tyvek suits, state leaders said today that the priority recipients of these pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) are and will remain healthcare workers and local health department staff, as these individuals are on the front lines of treating COVID-19. Ensuring their health and safety is vital to protecting all West Virginians.

The Department of Health and Human Resources will maintain its prioritization as further quantities become available, with additional consideration to EMS, clinics, physicians, and other community partners.
 
There are no plans to release any PPE to any other individuals or organizations at this time. The Justice Administration continues its efforts to identify other sources of PPE.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Gov. Justice is continuing to encourage West Virginians to follow the guidelines presented Monday by President Donald J. Trump to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people.

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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