COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice unveils plan to reopen state: “West Virginia Strong – The Comeback”

4/27/2020

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CHARLESTON, WV – Today, Gov. Jim Justice unveiled his comprehensive plan to reopen various aspects of the state and its economy, putting West Virginia on the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

WEST VIRGINIA STRONG – THE COMEBACK

The plan is called “West Virginia Strong – The Comeback” and allows businesses in certain sectors to reopen in phases over the next six weeks if the rate of positive COVID-19 cases in the state remains low.

“We’ve come up with a methodology that we think will move us forward, with science and math behind it, and experts behind it, and leadership behind it, we’re absolutely moving in the right way,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re going to monitor and watch every day and we’re going to take small steps and we will see where we are.

“If we’ve got to stop, or slow, or back up, then that’s what we’re going to do. You’ve done good work so far, West Virginia, and now we’re going to have to move forward. We cannot sit still forever because too many bad things will happen.”

 

Opening Criteria 
If the statewide cumulative percent of positive test results (available at Coronavirus.wv.gov) remains below 3% from today, Monday, April 27 through Wednesday, April 29, the six-week reopening process will begin.

 

The Week 1 phase of reopenings will begin on Thursday, April 30. From there, each phase of the reopening process for Weeks 2-6 will begin on Monday of each subsequent week. Case numbers will continue to be monitored throughout the entire reopening process.

Reopening is a Choice, Not a Requirement
Businesses included in each phase of this reopening plan are not required to resume operations on any specific date. This plan provides the option for reopening, not a requirement.
 
Week 1 
In the Week 1 phase of reopenings, hospitals across West Virginia will be able to resume elective medical procedures, provided that they have a plan in place to safely phase-in procedures based on clinical judgement while following all CDC guidelines – as ordered by Gov. Justice last week. Additionally, hospitals seeking to resume elective procedures must also have adequate inventories of personal protective equipment (PPE) and a plan to respond if there is a surge of COVID-19 patients in the future. Each hospital has the discretion to determine the best time to apply to restart elective medical procedures at their facility. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Office of Health Facility Licensure & Certification will approve each application.
 
Also during Week 1, outpatient health care operations may resume, including primary care, dentistry, physical/occupational therapy, psychological/mental health, and similar practices. However, providers must follow guidance issued by their boards and/or associations to which are designed to keep healthcare professionals and patients as safe as possible.
 
Additionally during this period, testing of daycare staff across the state will begin.

Week 2 
All businesses included in the Week 2 phase of reopenings will be required to operate with physical distancing measures in effect. Businesses will also be required to implement efforts to increase sanitation and the use of face coverings.
 
Further guidance on reopening requirements for each business sector included in the Week 2 phase of the plan will be available soon.
 
Any small business with fewer than 10 employees would be able to resume operations during Week 2. Additional guidance for small businesses will be available soon.
 
Additionally, all businesses providing professional services, such as hair salons, nail salons, barbershops, and pet grooming will be permitted to reopen. However, customers will be required to make appointments to utilize these services and must wait in their vehicles rather than inside the business. Additional guidance for professional service businesses will be available soon.
 
Outdoor dining at restaurants will be permitted under strict physical distancing restrictions. Additional guidance for outdoor dining establishments will be available soon.

Although churches and funeral homes were deemed essential, many chose to stop in-person services. During Week 2, those that wish to resume in-person services will be encouraged to follow additional guidelines such as limiting seating to every other pew, maintaining physical distancing and wearing face covering restrictions. Additional guidance for churches and funeral homes will be available soon.

Weeks 3-6
Several additional types of businesses will be permitted to reopen from Weeks 3-6. The opening schedule for these businesses will be based upon the recommendations of state medical experts and upon testing data available at that time. 

These businesses include office/government buildings, specialty retail stores, parks and/or restrooms and facilities at parks, gyms, fitness centers, recreation centers, dine-in restaurants, hotels, casinos, spas/massage establishments, and other businesses.

The Governor’s Office will announce which of these businesses will be able to reopen at least one week in advance of its respective reopening date. Additional guidance on reopening will be made available for each of these businesses at that time.

Conditions for Reopening to Slow, Stop, or Reverse
In the event that West Virginia’s number of positive COVID-19 cases surges above the 3% threshold, the schedule of reopenings may be slowed, stopped, or reversed.

Additionally, any unexpected increase in COVID-19 positive hospitalizations or any significant outbreaks of community-based transmission (not including clusters or outbreaks in nursing homes or other vulnerable communities) may slow, stop, or reverse the reopening process as deemed necessary by Gov. Justice and state health experts.

Businesses With No Timeline for Reopening Right Now
Due to safety concerns, at this time, there is still no timetable to reopen visitation at nursing homes.

Additionally, entertainment venues such as movie theaters, sporting events, and concerts will remain closed for the foreseeable future. 

West Virginians Should Continue to
As the reopening process gets underway, West Virginians should continue to practice good social distancing, maintaining at least six feet of separation between each other.

Additionally, people are encouraged to continue wearing face coverings in public where other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

The Governor’s Stay At Home order will remain in place until lifted at a later date.

Individuals are also required to continue following all county health department regulations and businesses are encouraged to continue allowing employees to telework if possible.

 

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GOV. JUSTICE ISSUES EXECUTIVE ORDER RESUMING HEALTH CARE OPERATIONS
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice signed an executive order allowing health care providers to resume all operations and procedures including elective procedures under the guidelines established in the Governor’s reopening plan. Hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers are still required to follow the Governor’s previous Executive Order to ensure that those larger facilities maintain sufficient response capacity in the event of a surge. 

The order also requires all West Virginia Health Care Boards to develop, publish, and disseminate guidance outlining the best practices to their respective memberships and professional communities for the safe resumption or expansion of services, in order to protect the medical and health care providers, as well as members of the public against the spread of COVID-19.

Click here to view this executive order on the Governor’s website

 

11,100 APPLICATIONS RECEIVED FOR PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE RECEIVED
Gov. Justice also announced today that more than 11,000 self-employed workers have applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits through WorkForce West Virginia since Friday.

The PUA program provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment compensation to certain self-employed workers, independent contractors and gig-economy employees who normally don't qualify for regular state unemployment benefits. Individuals will be notified when their applications are approved and when direct deposit and weekly certifications are available. Payments will be retroactively applied dating back to March 29.

Click here to read more

 

GOVERNOR ENCOURAGES PARTICIPATION IN SECOND ROUND OF PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM
Gov. Justice also recommended today West Virginia businesses take advantage of the latest round of benefits being provided by the federal government through the national Paycheck Protection Program.

“I would encourage anybody that wanted to apply, that maybe didn’t submit their applications in time the first time and then all the monies ran out, to be sure that you get back in line and apply because these dollars will flow to you and the small business community and they will absolutely be flowing back into West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “And that’s good stuff because every dollar we can get back into West Virginia will help us to be able to jumpstart our economy and do the goodness that we do for our people every day.”

 

WEST VIRGINIANS REMINDED TO TAKE CENSUS
Once again on Monday, Gov. Justice provided another reminder to all West Virginians to take the opportunity to complete the 2020 United States Census.

“We’ve got to really be counted in this Census, it’s really, really important,” Gov. Justice said. “Just do this for me: can you call your neighbors, call your loved ones and just ask them if they’ve been counted because that will bring all kinds of extra dollars to this state that will enable us for years and years to come to help everybody.”

Every West Virginian who does not respond to the Census represents a loss of $20,000 in federal funds over the next ten years for the state and its local communities. The funds can go toward things like health care, education, infrastructure, school lunch programs, and more.

Respond to the Census online at 2020census.gov.

 

WEST VIRGINIA NATIONAL GUARD WORKS TO BUILD ANALYTICAL FORECASTING TOOLS FOR COVID-19 RESPONSE
Members of the West Virginia National Guard and West Virginia University’s John Chambers College of Business and Economics have joined forces to develop key data systems to forecast and track the availability, procurement, distribution, and shortfalls of critical medical supplies throughout West Virginia during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Once established, getting an accurate reading of the on-the-ground demand for both type and quantity of PPE needed by the various medical facilities, first responder and public safety agencies, and local health departments around the state was identified as one of the primary challenges the task force would face.

After the taskforce collected initial data, the team then used models based on regional, state, and local information on current and expected spread of the disease, including data points such as population densities, health care bed capacities, and existing levels of available supplies, to forecast possible surge conditions should localized spikes or outbreaks happen.

Utilizing this data, officials in West Virginia can now order PPE and other medical supplies proactively to meet potential surge needs around the state, rather than reactively wait for a spike in cases to happen before fortifying local supply levels.

Click here to read more

 

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.

 

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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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