COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice provides more details on The Comeback plan ahead of next round of reopenings

5/1/2020

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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.

During his address, the Governor discussed West Virginia’s recent success at limiting the spread of the disease. The latest DHHR data shows that the statewide cumulative rate of positive tests dropped once again today to 2.43 percent.

View the latest COVID-19 testing data at Coronavirus.wv.gov

“You, West Virginians, have done an incredible job,” Gov. Justice said. “What you’ve done has been a miracle. But, as we go forward, you’ve got to continue to be smart. And I know you will be.”

“THE COMEBACK” UPDATE: WEEK 2 REOPENINGS SCHEDULED TO BEGIN MONDAY
Gov. Justice issued a reminder today that “Week 2” of the Governor’s multi-phased plan to reopen businesses across the state – “West Virginia Strong – The Comeback” – are scheduled to begin this coming Monday, May 4.

This phase includes the reopening of small businesses with 10 or fewer employees, restaurants with takeaway service or outdoor dining options, as well as religious entities and funeral homes.

Professional service operations such as hair salons, nail salons, barbershops, and pet grooming are also among the businesses permitted to reopen in Week 2. Additional safety guidelines for these specific types of businesses from the West Virginia State Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists are now available on the Governor’s “The Comeback” webpage.

 

Additionally, the Governor offered a reminder that his “Safer At Home” order will also go into effect on Monday, May 4 – replacing the original “Stay At Home” order issued last month.

“Safer At Home” still strongly encourages all West Virginians to stay at home when not performing essential tasks, but no longer mandates them to stay at home, among several other changes. To read more about the order, including a new list of frequently asked questions, visit the Governor’s “Safer At Home” webpage.

 

“I encourage all businesses that are allowed to open to do so, only if they follow the guidelines that are designed to keep West Virginians safe,” Gov. Justice said. “We continue to work with business groups to help them establish protocols. You should continue to stay at home if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have come into contact with someone who has had it.”

 

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ADDITIONAL GUIDELINES FOR HOTSPOT COUNTIES TO BE RELEASED
Gov. Justice also announced that additional safety guidelines will be released soon for the state’s 11 remaining COVID-19 “hotspot” counties – which are areas subject to stricter measures to slow the spread of the disease as deemed necessary by local health officials.

These remaining hotspots are Berkeley, Cabell, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha, Marion, Monongalia, Ohio, Wayne, and Wood counties.

“We’ve been in touch with all 11 and we’re continuing to get feedback from our experts, from the counties, and from the people that are on the ground with our health departments,” Gov. Justice said. “We want everybody to come back online and we want to do as much as we possibly can, as we do the baby steps instead of the running, but we are very aware of the hotspot counties, their bordering outside-the-state neighbors, and different issues they might have, so we’re going to try to treat that appropriately.”

 

MEDICINE FROM NATIONAL STOCKPILE DELIVERED TO WEST VIRGINIA HOSPITALS
Also today, Gov. Justice congratulated the West Virginia State Police and DHHR for their efforts today to provide medications from the United States Strategic National Stockpile to hospitals across the state.

“Twenty state troopers, working together with the DHHR, have orchestrated the delivery of life-sustaining medications to every hospital across our state in one day,” Gov. Justice said. “These medications, that have shortages nationwide, have been delivered quickly by our troopers to make sure they get to the people of West Virginia.”

 

APRIL REVENUE UPDATE
Gov. Justice announced today that general revenue collections for April were $192.3 million below estimate, with the sharp decline associated with the economic response to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

“We expected this. We’ve been watching this all along,” Gov. Justice said. “Our revenue people – I meet with them all the time – have been on top of this. We’re almost exactly on track with where they believed we’d be.

“A good amount of those dollars are income tax monies that we anticipated on April 15, that weren’t here because we moved the date to July 15. But there’s still a tremendous amount of the shortfall is simply due to the fact that West Virginia has been basically shut down.

“I really believe, wholeheartedly, we’re going to address the number through the federal government allowing us to backfill revenue. We do not have that assurance yet. But we’re working it. 

“Remember, I’m the business guy. This is right in my wheelhouse. We’re a state that was tracking along, making money, doing great, and having surpluses and everything else and now this terrible pandemic is right in our lap. And all we’re asking to do is to be able to backfill the cause and effect of this pandemic. That’s it. And I think our federal government is going to come through.”

 

GOVERNOR THANKS RURAL LETTER CARRIERS, HEALTH WORKERS FOR THEIR SERVICE DURING PANDEMIC
Additionally, Gov. Justice thanked the over 1,000 West Virginia Rural Letter Carriers who work every day of the week in all corners of the state delivering mail – including food, medicine, recovery checks, as well as other essential items to over 300,000 postal customers in West Virginia.

“I want everyone to think about our mail carriers – the people delivering your packages,” Gov. Justice said. “Think about when the stores were closed and we needed stuff. Those people were bringing that stuff right to your homes. Those people are doing valiant work and absolutely we commend them and thank them from the bottom of our hearts.”

The Governor also thanked all the workers at local health departments across the state who have continued to combat the spread of COVID-19.

“Think about your county health department. Think about the hours that they’re going around the clock with testing, they’re visiting the nursing homes,” Gov. Justice said. “They’re doing everything. They are our boots on the ground. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”

 

UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS UPDATE
Gov. Justice also reported that WorkForce West Virginia​, along with the help of the West Virginia National Guard, has processed 148,000 of 164,000 unemployment claims that have been filed since March 1.

 

CORONAVIRUS CZAR URGES WEST VIRGINIANS TO WEAR FACE COVERINGS WHEN OUTSIDE
In his address today, West Virginia Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh urged all West Virginians to wear a mask or face covering of some kind as much as possible when outside to protect against the spread of COVID-19 as the state begins to reopen.

“As we go back out again and as we go to the stores or the other activities we like to do, remember: protecting yourself protects your neighbor, which protects our healthcare workers and our healthcare capacity, and also protects our state,” Dr. Marsh said.

 

DHHR PROVIDES UPDATE ON NURSING HOME TESTING; RECOGNIZES MENTAL HEALTH MONTH
Additionally today, DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch reported that nearly all testing has been completed at nursing home facilities across West Virginia.

“We have the last facility being tested today. That will be completed and those samples will be sent to the lab this afternoon,” Sec. Crouch said. “That means all 123 facilities have been tested. And we certainly want to thank the staff, the CEOs, and the owners of these facilities for their cooperation in this effort. It’s really hard to believe that we’ve been able to do 123 facilities in just two weeks and double our testing efforts – again, we’re the first state in the country to do this, we thank the Governor for his approach.”

Sec. Crouch said that despite initial hopes to unveil the results of that testing today, additional results will need to come in over the weekend to give a more complete picture.

“We’ll wait to do the summary next week when we have complete information, we expect to have all of those reports in by Monday, so we anticipate doing the summary on Monday,” Sec. Crouch said.

 

Sec. Crouch also pointed out that May is Mental Health Month and urged West Virginians to take as much care of their mental health as possible in these challenging times.

“This pandemic is stressful and difficult for almost everyone,” Sec. Crouch said. “We all have a hard time dealing with not seeing our families and not seeing our friends.

“One in five people experience mental health illness at some point in their life and everyone is facing challenges in these trying times. We encourage you to take care of your mental health as you would your physical health.”

If you need mental health support, please consider calling or texting HELP4WV (844-435-7498). Additional mental health resources are also available on the behavioral health page on Coronavirus.wv.gov.

 

WEST VIRGINIA NATIONAL GUARD UPDATE

Click here to read about the latest response efforts by the West Virginia National Guard

 

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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