CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice gathered key members of his administration and medical experts from across the state on Wednesday to coordinate precautionary measures and continue preparations and planning for novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Following the meeting at the State Capitol, Gov. Justice announced that he has issued a State of Preparedness for West Virginia.
“Currently West Virginia has no cases of COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean we don’t take this very seriously because we most certainly are,” said Gov. Justice. “I want us to be fully prepared and take every precaution we need to keep West Virginians safe. That is the highest of priorities.
Gov. Justice said that in addition to the State of Preparedness, a website with up-to-date information, www.coronavirus.wv.gov
, is available for the public to monitor.
“We are actively engaged on this and have been for more than a month now,” Gov. Justice said. “And we will continue to keep the public informed in the days ahead.
“The one real big thing that I would like to remind everyone to do is this, good hygiene is a key to limiting the spread of any virus and/or disease and this is no different,” Gov. Justice added. “Good hand washing is really critical.”
Among those in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting were: Cathy Slemp, MD, MPH, State Health Officer and Commissioner of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) Bureau for Public Health; Bill Crouch, Secretary for the DHHR; James Hoyer, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard, Jeff Sandy, Secretary for the West Virginia Division of Military Affairs and Public Safety (DMAPS); Tom Kirk, Deputy Secretary and General Counsel for DMAPS; Clay Marsh, MD, Vice President and Executive Dean for Health Sciences at West Virginia University; Jeff Coben, Dean, School of Public Health at WVU; Joseph Shapiro, MD, Dean of Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University; Craig Boisvert, DO, FACOFP, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine; Michael Mills, DO, Medical Director, West Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services; Sarah Armstrong Tucker, Interim Chancellor, Higher Education Policy Commission; W. Clayton Burch, State Superintendent of Schools; Mike Hall, Chief of Staff to Gov. Justice; and other state and community leaders.
Statement from WVDHHR Secretary Bill Crouch
“DHHR is closely monitoring this outbreak and maintaining communication and outreach with federal, state and local public health partners. Local health departments are equipped with guidance to safely monitor the health of any residents returning to West Virginia from China and elsewhere around the world experiencing outbreaks. Tools are being developed to inform, prepare, and respond to localized outbreaks of COVID-19 in healthcare, business, and educational settings including childcare. We are also holding weekly calls with local health departments and emergency managers. DHHR has established a website to keep the public updated: www.coronavirus.wv.gov
.”Statement from Major General James Hoyer, West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General
“The West Virginia National Guard is prepared to assist our partner agencies across the state in all aspects of response through our highly trained personnel and units who specialize in medical isolation and decontamination and who can help expedite supply deliveries to medical facilities and communities throughout the state. The Guard stands ready to help keep our fellow West Virginians safe during this and any future public health threat.”Statement from West Virginia Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch
“The West Virginia Department of Education is working closely with the Governor’s office and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to ensure the school community is preparing for a potential Covid-19 outbreak. To date, the WVDE is in ongoing contact with all 55 counties and the School for the Deaf and the Blind. Districts are encouraged to review their plans for infectious disease outbreaks and their emergency communication plans. Additionally, administrators are reminded to be diligent in cleaning surfaces throughout their facilities and to remind families to keep sick children home.”Statement from Sarah Armstrong Tucker, Ph.D, Interim Chancellor of the Higher Education Policy Commission, Chancellor of the Community and Technical College System
“I would like to thank Governor Justice for convening today’s informative meeting. I am following up with presidents at West Virginia’s public and private two- and four-year higher education institutions to share available resources and guidance for our campus communities. As always, the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is paramount.”