COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice tells West Virginians to keep doing the things that will “cripple” the coronavirus

4/7/2020

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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 measures being taken in the interest of protecting the public from the spread of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Gov. Jim Justice said today that West Virginians continue to “really do the things that are making a difference” in the battle to limit COVID-19 in the state and encouraged residents to “cripple the virus by staying home and if you are out keep practicing social distancing.”

The Governor also reported that the backlog of unemployment claims being filed with Workforce West Virginia is being quickly addressed thanks to the continued hard work of Workforce employees and with the assistance of the West Virginia National Guard.

“I can very, very proudly tell you that in one day 28,500 claims were processed so we’re catching up and we’re catching up fast,” Gov. Justice said. “I’m so appreciative of the work that our Workforce employees are doing and to the National Guard for stepping up and helping out in a big, big way,” Gov. Justice said.

“Today, I can also report that Workforce West Virginia will begin distributing the additional $600 in federal unemployment compensation provided by the Cares Act for unemployment claimants. So that’s a big bump for those who are unemployed.”

View the most up-to-date testing numbers here.

Addressing repeated inquiries about the number of citizens that are being tested, Gov. Justice said that .559 percent of West Virginians have been tested as compared to .592 percent nationwide.

“We’re almost step for step with what’s going on across the entire nation,” Gov. Justice stated. “And when it comes to our neighboring states - Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia - we are second, and only slightly behind Pennsylvania, in the percentage of the population being tested, and we’re the lowest of all these states in positive tests,” Gov. Justice added. “Our percentage of positives dropped from 3.47 percent yesterday to 3.42 percent today and that’s compared to 18.51 percent nationally.

“I salute all of our medical personnel, our frontline workers, our first responders, and our citizens. We’re doing it West Virginia, stay ahead of the curve so keep on, keeping on.”

Gov. Justice reported that four patients and one employee have tested positive at Eastbrook Center Nursing Home in Charleston for COVID-19 with 69 testing negative and 52 other tests still pending. All other staff that weren’t tested Monday have been contacted to make appointments for testing.

“We’re on top of that situation,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s of great concern especially in a nursing home setting, we just don’t want that. But we’re doing everything we can to address it.”
COVID CZAR SAYS OFFICIALS WORKING DILIGENTLY TO LOOK AT ALL CONTINGENCIES

Dr. Clay Marsh, COVID-19 Czar for West Virginia, said Tuesday that officials continue “working very hard to look at all contingencies” and “are preparing” to handle patients in the state that need hospitalization for treatment of the coronavirus while making sure healthcare workers “are outfitted with the appropriate protective gear.”

Dr. Marsh said the “aggressive actions” that have been taken so far are reducing West Virginia’s positive testing numbers and he again encouraged residents to “not become complacent, pull together and keep helping each other out” by staying the course, keeping our power by staying at home, and staying strong.”
DHHR SECRETARY SAYS EARLY MEASURES HAVE HELPED, SAYS HEALTHCARE FACILITIES ACROSS THE STATE READYING TO HANDLE PATIENTS

DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch reported that West Virginia is “positioned well” as the pandemic continues and said that Gov. Justice “made decisions early on that many saw as unnecessary but now are now seen as critical and essential to fighting this disease and West Virginia is proof that we’ve done this the right way and at the right time.

“But this is no time to relax. We are working on surge preparation and should have a plan finalized by the end of this week.”

He said that St. Francis Hospital in Charleston is being prepared as a “surge hospital” if needed for COVID-19 patients and he thanked and praised other healthcare facilities and organizations across the state for readying to “make sure our citizens will have the care they need.”

State Health Officer Dr. Cathy Slemp told residents that it is important to recognize that not everyone with symptoms needs to be tested and that 80 percent of people that get the virus will have “mild to moderate conditions that can be treated accordingly and managed from home.

“If you get sick you should stay home a minimum of seven days and be without fever, and fever-reducing medications for three days, before you go out” Dr. Slemp added. “If you have symptoms that are worrying you or you’re getting sicker then you need to contact your healthcare provider and come up with a plan for them to see you.”
NATIONAL GUARD NOW HAS 520 ON DUTY

Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard provided an update on duty personnel and work being performed.

“Today, the West Virginia National Guard has nearly 520 Soldiers and Airmen on duty supporting COVID-19 response efforts across the state. By Wednesday of this week, 30 Guard personnel will be assisting Workforce West Virginia to increase capacity for the state to process unemployment claims and provide additional call centers throughout the state,” Gen. Hoyer said.

“Members of Task Force Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Response Enterprise (TF-CRE) continue to ramp up their efforts to provide training to local retail establishments on proper cargo, box handling and PPE wear in an effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19 spread. They will be providing training to 46 stores today in addition to the 23 stores trained yesterday. So far, this task force has trained 98 stores and 422 personnel while also assisting with COVID-19 drive through testing lanes and testing support at two nursing homes in Morgantown and Charleston.  

“Our mission of supporting the most vulnerable populations in the state continues to make an impact and in the last 24 hours we packed 450 family boxes at the Facing Hunger Food Bank in Huntington and our refrigerated trucks assisted with the delivery of 3,035 meals to Wirt, Tyler, Pocahontas, and Webster Counties. To date, WVNG personnel have assisted in packing and distributing 58,536 meals to those in need in the Mountain State.

“In the last 24 hours, the West Virginia National Guard, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Resources, conducted 266 contact tracing and data analysis engagements for the tracking of COVID-19 spread throughout the state.   

West Virginia Guardsmen and women distributed hand sanitizer to locations across the state yesterday and will provide additional quantities to areas in Southern West Virginia today. Additionally, personnel are providing assistance at St. Francis Hospital today in the conversion of space to support COVID-19 patients.”

Read more here. 
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
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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