COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice provides more than $4.1 million to help volunteer firefighters; reports modest improvement in case numbers

7/22/2020

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.

$4.19 MILLION PROVIDED TO HELP VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS
During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that he and his team have found a way to provide $10,000 in grant funding directly to each of the 419 volunteer fire departments across West Virginia.

In total, the Governor’s initiative will provide $4.19 million to help volunteer firefighters in all corners of the Mountain State.

“Our volunteer fire departments have been hurting because they haven't been able to do a lot of the fundraising they need to do during this pandemic,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve been trying to figure out what we can do.

“We all know the beauty of what they give to all of us,” Gov. Justice continued. “Not only do they run to the fire, but they do it on a volunteer basis. All the good they bring to every one of us is unbelievable.

“Our communities abound with volunteer fire departments and we’re very proud to be able to send $10,000 to each and every one of them because these firefighters are true heroes to all of us beyond belief.”

 

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COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS UPDATE
Gov. Justice also reported a modest improvement in West Virginia’s COVID-19 case numbers in recent days, announcing that out of 2,838 tests taken on Tuesday, only 30 were positive; a rate of less than 1.06 percent.

“The number of active cases in Mon County has dropped from 394 to 339 and that’s also very good,” Gov. Justice said. “Our numbers, for the past couple of days, have been moving back in the direction that we want them to move.

Gov. Justice pointed out that Wednesday marked two weeks and two days since he established his statewide indoor face covering requirement.

“Something is making this move in our favor,” Gov. Justice said. “I’m a believer that one robin doesn’t make spring and this is more like one robin right now, as far as the numbers we have. But we’re going to keep watching the numbers for a few more days and then we’ll be able to react from there.”

The Governor also reported that West Virginia’s R
t value – an indicator of how much COVID-19 is spreading – which had been the highest among all 50 states, has now improved to 19th nationwide. However, Gov. Justice also pointed out that COVID-19-related hospitalizations have increased slightly since his previous briefing on Monday.

“We still have to be really careful and keep watch of what’s going on in other places,” Gov. Justice said. “But, at least for today, we’re doing a little bit better and I can never thank you enough, West Virginia, for being the miracle.”

View additional data: Coronavirus.wv.gov.

 

GOVERNOR DISCUSSES REOPENING PLANS WITH ALL WEST VIRGINIA COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTS
Also, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that he held a virtual meeting on Tuesday with all 27 of West Virginia’s public and private college and university presidents to discuss reopening plans for the fall semester and how to ensure the safety of West Virginia’s students, teachers, faculty members, and communities amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the end of day, all of our schools want our kids back and our kids want to be back in school and back on campus,” Gov. Justice said. “So how do we do that while also protecting our kids, their staff and faculty, and all of the communities where our kids will be? How do we move forward in the best way possible, without disrupting the education process for our students? Not to mention the economics, because we don’t want to start losing any of our colleges and universities within the state.

“I commend, beyond belief, the incredible plans that these institutions have put forward,” Gov. Justice continued. “We’ve listened to all of them and their plans are spectacular, to ensure, without a doubt, the safety of our kids, the staff, their communities, and everyone.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, Gov. Justice renewed his calls for all students coming into West Virginia from out-of-state to be tested upon their return. The Governor also advocated for individuals on campuses to wear face coverings to the greatest extent possible and pledged to provide colleges and universities with any additional support they may need to facilitate a safe return.

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STATE PARK RESERVATIONS UP 227 PERCENT IN MIDST OF WVSTRONG DISCOUNT
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that in June 2020, compared to June 2019, West Virginia saw a 227 percent increase in online reservations for stays at West Virginia State Parks among in-state residents. Revenue from West Virginia residents also increased by 187 percent.

“West Virginians are taking advantage of our State Parks because they are a great place to socially distance while exploring the beauty of Almost Heaven West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said.

In May, as a show of appreciation for the resiliency and support of West Virginians during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia State Parks would offer a historic discount on lodging for all West Virginia residents.

The offer, called the WVSTRONG Discount, is providing West Virginians with a 30 percent discount on lodging at all State Parks for stays between June 1 through August 31.

“Under my administration, we said that we were going to do anything and everything we could to improve our State Parks,” Gov. Justice said. “Through our State Park Bond Program, projects are underway or planned at every single park.

“These projects are making our Parks shine, and I am so proud to see West Virginians taking advantage of them,” Gov. Justice continued. “They’re your State Parks, West Virginia, go to them, enjoy them, you’ll find something really special going on.”

 

ACTIVE CHURCH OUTBREAKS IN EIGHT COUNTIES
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that one new church-related outbreak of COVID-19 has been identified at a place of worship in Mason County, meaning there are now active church outbreaks in a total of eight counties across West Virginia.

Other counties where such outbreaks have been identified include Boone, Grant, Logan, Kanawha, Raleigh, Taylor, and Wood counties. These outbreaks account for about 85 total cases combined.

“I, again, want to strongly encourage all West Virginians, especially when in church settings, to follow the guidelines: use every other pew, maintain social distancing, and please wear face coverings,” Gov. Justice said. “A lot of the attendance at our churches are those that are elderly and at higher risk, so I am cautioning everyone to strictly follow our guidelines.”

 

FREE COVID-19 TESTING: BROOKE, GILMER, LOGAN, AND MARION COUNTIES
Gov. Justice also updated the schedule of upcoming free community COVID-19 testing events taking place over the next two weeks at various dates and times in Brooke, Gilmer, Logan, and Marion 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.

 

THIS WEEK


Brooke County
Friday, July 24 & Saturday, July 25
8:00 a.m. –  2:00 p.m.
Brooke High/Middle School Complex:
5 Bruin Drive, Wellsburg, WV

  • Transportation will be provided for individuals who are unable to drive to this location only. To arrange for transport, please call 304-737-3665.


Logan County
Saturday, July 25

9:00 a.m. –  4:00 p.m.
Logan County Emergency Ambulance Authority, Station #30:
26 ½ Main Avenue, Logan, WV

 

NEXT WEEK


Gilmer County
Friday, July 31 & Saturday, August 1
7:00 a.m. –  3:00 p.m.
809 Medical Drive, Suite 3, Glenville, WV

Marion County
Saturday, August 1
9:00 a.m. –  4:00 p.m.
Windmill Park:
900 Ogden Avenue, Fairmont, WV

 

SMALL BUSINESS GRANT APPLICATIONS
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that applications are available for small businesses seeking to receive funding through the Governor’s West Virginia CARES Act Small Business Grant Program.

The initiative will provide $150 million of West Virginia’s CARES Act funding to qualifying businesses across the state. Any West Virginia-based small business, in existence on February 29, 2020, with 1-35 employees, is able to apply for up to $5,000 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: $51.8 MILLION HAS NOW BEEN AWARDED
Additionally 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 $51.8 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.

 

EXECUTIVE ORDER ON PART-TIME PERSONNEL
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice signed an executive order suspending the regulatory statute that prevents part-time professional personnel from being employed by the State for more than 1,000 hours per year.

 

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 696 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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