COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice signs order allowing low-contact outdoor sporting events, in-person high school graduation ceremonies

6/19/2020

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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.

ORDER PERMITS LOW-CONTACT OUTDOOR SPORT EVENTS, IN-PERSON HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION CEREMONIES
On Friday, Gov. Justice announced that he has signed an executive order that will formally allow several activities, currently scheduled to reopen in the Week 9 phase of West Virginia Strong – The Comeback, to resume, provided that all additional guidelines are followed to help keep West Virginians as safe as possible.

Approved activity reopenings on Monday, June 22, include: 

  • Youth sports games with spectators
  • Outdoor sporting events with spectators
  • Outdoor equestrian events with spectators
  • Summer Youth Camps

Click here to view guidelines for all low-contact outdoor sports events

Click here to view guidelines for summer youth camps

The same executive order also formally allows county school systems to start holding in-person high school graduation ceremonies beginning Monday, June 22, provided that all additional guidelines are followed to help keep West Virginians as safe as possible.

Click here to view guidelines for in-person graduation ceremonies

The guidelines require that all in-person graduations must be held at outdoor venues and that events must be structured to allow for adequate social distancing and for other safety measures to be properly followed.

Six feet of social distancing is required at all times and face masks or coverings are strongly encouraged. Several additional safety precautions are also required.

The order will go into effect on Monday, June 22, 2020, at 12:01 a.m.

 

Click images to view photo album

THE COMEBACK | GUIDANCE DOCS | SAFER AT HOME ORDER
Week 8 of the Gov. Justice reopening plan – West Virginia Strong – The Comeback – is now underway and announcements regarding future reopenings have been made. Guidance documents for all businesses and other entities permitted to reopen can be found online.

The Governor's Safer At Home order remains in effect.

GOV. JUSTICE PROCLAIMS FRIDAY AS JUNETEENTH DAY
During today’s briefing, Gov. Justice also took time to announce that he had signed a proclamation, officially declaring today as Juneteenth Day in West Virginia.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is celebrated each year on June 19 to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

 

 

GOV. JUSTICE WISHES WEST VIRGINIA AN EARLY HAPPY 157TH BIRTHDAY
Also today, Gov. Justice took time to celebrate that tomorrow, June 20, 2020, is West Virginia’s 157th Birthday.

“What a place to live. We all, who live in West Virginia, know all the goodness that goes on here,” Gov. Justice said. “We know how good our families are. We know that we’re faith-based, we’re low-crime, and we’re loving people who are appreciative of one another.

“Through the miracle that’s happened here in the past few months, the world has seen how good and how safe of a place that West Virginia truly is,” Gov. Justice continued. “More people will come now because of you, West Virginia. I am so proud of you and I’m excited to celebrate this great, great birthday.”

For West Virginia Day on Saturday, Gov. Justice will honor the state’s birthday with a special video message from leaders across the Mountain State. The segment will be broadcast on the West Virginia Public Broadcasting Channel. Click here to find your station.

The video message will also be shown on the Governor’s Facebook page, Twitter feed, and YouTube channel.

 

UPDATE ON CHURCH OUTBREAKS
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice provided an update on several church-related outbreaks of COVID-19 across West Virginia. 

Gov. Justice reported Wednesday that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) has identified six church-related outbreaks since the beginning of the pandemic.

Three of the outbreaks remain active at this time. They are associated with churches located in Greenbrier, Ohio, and Boone counties.

The total number of positive cases associated with the outbreak in Greenbrier County is now up to 34, with three of the individuals currently hospitalized. A total of 104 congregation members were tested.

The total number of positive cases associated with the outbreak in Ohio County is now at five, with two of the individuals currently hospitalized.

The total number of positive cases associated with the outbreak in Boone County is now at eight.

“Church is absolutely our most sacred ground,” Gov. Justice said. “But please, you have got to wear a mask, you have got to sit every other pew. And if people aren’t doing it, for crying out loud, step up and say something.”

Despite hearing word of a potential outbreak at a second church in Greenbrier County, State Health Officer Dr. Cathy Slemp provided additional clarification.

“What we have is actually not a new outbreak in that church, we have an exposure from the first church,” Dr. Slemp said. “So, some of the congregation members from a second church were exposed to individuals who became ill from the first church.

“So we have simply been making sure we’ve notified all of those individuals that might have been potentially exposed and the church has been closed for the next couple weeks of services just in case anyone were to develop illness there and then they’re doing cleaning at the church.”

 

GOV. JUSTICE URGES CAUTION AMONG MYRTLE BEACH VISITORS
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice provided words of caution to West Virginians who have or who are considering traveling to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, after cases have dramatically increased at the popular vacation destination in recent days.

“We have a lot of close ties in South Carolina,” Gov. Justice said. “Lo and behold, they’ve got a big-time problem and it becomes our problem too because we’ve got a lot of people that love to go to Myrtle Beach. It’s a great place to go, it’s wonderful fun, and a great place to be, but now we’ve got multiple people that are coming back to Myrtle Beach that are testing positive.

“If you ought to travel to Myrtle Beach – and I would think twice before I did that, West Virginia, because they’ve got a real problem going on there – but if you do that, what I would highly recommend you do is, when you get back, is just consider quarantining​ yourself and take the time to be tested. You may very well save a life and that life might be your own or someone close to you.”

 

2020 STATE FAIR OF WEST VIRGINIA CANCELED
Gov. Justice also provided an update on the 2020 State Fair of West Virginia, just after the fair’s Board of Directors announced that they had opted to cancel the event.

“The State Fair brings together tens of thousands of people and, at the end of the day, they just decided that it was too much too soon,” Gov. Justice said. “Of course, we all love the fair and we’re going to miss it in every way. But, at the same time, we understand and respect the decision.”

RALEIGH COUNTY NURSING HOME REMAINS COVID-FREE
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice reported that, despite concerns of a COVID-19 outbreak in one of Raleigh County’s nursing homes, further investigation showed that that there are no active cases at the nursing home at this time.

THOMAS HEALTH COMING OUT OF BANKRUPTCY
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice expressed his congratulations to officials with Thomas Health after learning that they have agreed on a plan to come out of bankruptcy, a move that will save more than 1,600 jobs.

“During this pandemic Thomas Health stepped up and made St. Francis Hospital a COVID-19 surge facility in the event our hospitals were over capacity,” Gov. Justice said. “We provided them funding through FEMA to set up this special hospital to assist our hospital system to maintain its load.

“We truly appreciate their partnership and are so happy for them, all their employees, and the great West Virginians who rely on Thomas for top-quality healthcare service,” Gov. Justice continued.

“This goes back a ways to when we had our local community hospitals closing all over the state. I have said over and over that our local hospitals are the backbone of our local communities. They are among our biggest employers. They are absolutely essential. We don’t want to get into a situation where we’re putting somebody into an ambulance with a heart attack and driving them an hour-and-a-half or two hours trying to get them to a hospital. We have got to support our local hospitals and I, as your Governor, am still committed to doing just that.”

 

GRANT FUNDS TO CITIES AND COUNTIES UP TO $11 MILLION
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice provided an update on cities and counties throughout West Virginia applying for funds through the federal CARES Act, reporting that more than $11 million has now been distributed all across the state.

“We surely can’t pump the money out the door until our cities and counties apply,” Gov. Justice said. “We have guidelines that we have to follow from the federal government, but we’re moving as fast as possible. We’re calling cities and counties ourselves and encouraging them to apply to get the money out the door.

A web portal is available for city and county government officials to apply for this grant funding: 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.

Gov. Justice also added that, despite the U.S. Congress passing a deal on May 14 to bring $57 million to West Virginia for the state’s local health departments, the federal funding has not arrived in West Virginia yet.

 

FREE COMMUNITY TESTING: OHIO, PUTNAM, AND SUMMERS COUNTIES
Gov. Justice also offered a reminder that free community COVID-19 testing is being provided both today – Friday, June 19, and tomorrow – Saturday, June 20, in Ohio, Putnam, and Summers 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:

Ohio County (Two locations)
Friday, June 19

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Exley Center at Hil-Dar: 2155 Angle Avenue, Wheeling, WV 26003
Saturday, June 20
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
North Wheeling Dream Center: 407 Main Street, Wheeling, WV 26003
 
Putnam County
Friday, June 19  & Saturday, June 20
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Teays Valley Baptist Church: 3926 Teays Valley Road, Hurricane, WV 25526
 
Summers County
Friday, June 19  & Saturday, June 20

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Freight Depot: 508 Commercial Street, Hinton, WV 25951 

Identification, such as a driver’s license or proof of address, is required to be tested. Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Click here to read more

 

FREE COMMUNITY TESTING: CABELL, HANCOCK, AND MINGO COUNTIES
Gov. Justice also announced that free community COVID-19 testing will be provided next Friday, June 26, and Saturday, June 27, in Cabell, Hancock, and Mingo counties.

Testing is scheduled as follows:

Cabell County
Friday, June 26

1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
A.D. Lewis Community Center: 1450 A.D. Lewis Avenue, Huntington, WV
Saturday, June 27
9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
A.D. Lewis Community Center: 1450 A.D. Lewis Avenue, Huntington, WV

Hancock County
Friday, June 26 & Saturday, June 27

10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Mountaineer Casino: 1420 Mountaineer Circle, Track Side Building, New Cumberland, WV

Mingo County
Friday, June 26 & Saturday, June 27
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
183 East 2nd Avenue, Williamson, WV

Click here to read more

 

ADDITIONAL TESTING: BOONE, LINCOLN, MCDOWELL, RALEIGH, AND WYOMING COUNTIES
Gov. Justice and the DHHR also announced locations for additional free COVID-19 community testing in Boone, Lincoln, McDowell, Raleigh, and Wyoming counties, at various times and dates, beginning Monday, June 22, through Monday, June 29.

Testing is scheduled as follows:

Boone County
Wednesday, June 24

10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Racine Park: 446 John Slack Circle, Racine, WV 25165

Lincoln County
Monday, June 29

10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Lincoln County High School: 81 Lincoln Panther Way, Hamlin, WV  25523

McDowell County
Friday, June 26

10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
River View High School: 556 Mountaineer Highway, Bradshaw, WV 24817

Raleigh County
Tuesday, June 23

8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. 
Beckley Raleigh County Convention Center: 100 Armory Drive, Beckley, WV  25801

Wyoming County
Monday, June 22

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Berlin McKinney Elementary School: 405 Cook Parkway, Oceana, WV 24870
Monday, June 22
1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Palisades Park: 155 Park Street, Pineville, WV 24874
Tuesday, June 23
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.                                      
City Parking Lot: 316 Howard Avenue, Mullens, WV 25882
Thursday, June 25
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
374 Lizard Creek Park Road, Hanover, WV 24839

Click here to read more

 

WEST VIRGINIA STRONG SUMMER FOOD ASSISTANCE MAP
Also on Friday, 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 now available online.

Click here to view the map

More than 670 free-feeding locations have 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.

 

STATEWIDE CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES TESTING UPDATE
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice provided another update on his initiative to test all inmates and employees within the State’s network of correctional facilities for COVID-19.

The most recent testing results showed there were a total of ten active COVID-19 cases among inmates and residents at one jail and one prison across West Virginia and four active COVID-19 cases among corrections employees and contract staff.

More than 10,000 inmates and 4,000 employees were tested in total. Two jails and one prison have completely recovered all of their COVID-19 patients.

Last Friday, Gov. Justice announced that the full testing of all facilities had been completed. However, portions of the test results remain pending at this time.

 

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.

 

DATA UPDATE
Gov. Justice provided another overview of statewide data on COVID-19, highlighting that West Virginia’s cumulative percentage of positive test results had dropped to 1.67 percent, the lowest such rate since the pandemic first reached West Virginia.

West Virginia continues to excel in several metrics compared to its surrounding states and the national average. View the latest COVID-19 data at Coronavirus.wv.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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