COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice announces Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program now accepting applications

3/26/2021

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.

MOUNTAINEER RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS
During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that a program developed to help renters and landlords impacted by COVID-19 is open and accepting applications.

The Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program, administered by the West Virginia Housing Development Fund (WVHDF), offers direct financial assistance to renters who have lost their job, had their income reduced, or suffered a significant cost or financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Justice first announced the creation of this program in January.

“I’m incredibly excited for this program, because it’s going to enable us to get some much-needed financial assistance to West Virginians who may have struggled to pay their rent through no fault of their own,” Gov. Justice said.
The Governor was joined for Friday’s briefing by WVHDF Executive Director Erica Boggess.

“The Housing Development Fund is very happy to be opening the Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program and we thank you, Governor Justice, for your support,” Boggess said. “In addition to helping our renters, this program also helps our landlords and utility companies, who will receive the payments directly once applications are approved.”
Funding is reserved for individuals who have qualified for unemployment benefits or who have experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due directly or indirectly to the coronavirus outbreak, are at risk of being homeless, have been served an eviction notice, or are living in unhealthy conditions.

The program is for renter households with incomes no more than 80% of area median income (AMI). Priority will be given to households with incomes of no more than 50% of AMI and to households in which one or more household member is unemployed and has been unemployed for 90 days.

Funding is limited. All who plan to apply are urged to do so early.

An application portal is available at wvmrap.com. Those with limited internet access are encouraged to call 211 for further details.

WALMART TO BEGIN OFFERING VACCINATIONS IN WEST VIRGINIA NEXT WEEK
Following Friday’s briefing, Joint Interagency Task Force Director Jim Hoyer announced that, beginning next week, West Virginia will partner with Walmart through the Federal Pharmacy Program to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to additional West Virginians.

“There’s a firm percentage of the population out there that lives within 10 miles of a Walmart in West Virginia, as well as all across the country,” Hoyer said. “So it’s another great addition to our vaccination program – it’s going to be big.”

More information will be announced next week.

UPDATE ON INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH DATA
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice announced that an investigation into the reason why certain COVID-19-related deaths were not properly reported is being completed.

The Governor ordered the investigation last Friday, following the DHHR’s recent discovery of more than 180 COVID-19-related deaths that had not been reported properly.

“This afternoon, the people that did the independent investigation will brief the DHHR,” Gov. Justice said. “We will review their findings, and any actions or corrections we need to make, we will do so.

“We want to be completely transparent and respectful to all the great West Virginians that we've lost,” Gov. Justice continued. “That’s exactly what we’ll be.”

VACCINE DISTRIBUTION UPDATE
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice reported that West Virginia has now successfully administered 759,993 doses after receiving a total allotment of 829,300 doses from the federal government to date; an overall administration rate of 91.6%.

West Virginia currently boasts a first dose administration rate of 97.8% and a second dose administration rate of 83.3%.
  • First doses: 466,228 administered / 476,480 allotted
  • Second doses: 293,765 administered / 352,820 allotted
West Virginia COVID-19 Dashboard (Click “Vaccine Summary” tab)
Vaccinations are now available to all West Virginians age 16 and older. However, West Virginians who are age 65 and older will continue to be prioritized first until all state residents in this age range who desire the vaccine have been vaccinated.

The Governor provided a reminder of his announcement Wednesday that, at his direction, the Joint Interagency Task Force is setting up three fixed-location vaccination clinics in Berkeley, Kanawha, and Monongalia counties to ensure that every West Virginian age 65 and older has access to a vaccine.

To date, 231,422 West Virginians age 65 and older have chosen to be vaccinated – approximately 70% of West Virginia’s population in this age range – including 167,460 who are now fully vaccinated.

Any West Virginians age 65 and older who are still waiting on an appointment are urged to call the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965 to ensure that they are scheduled to be vaccinated. The info line is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Free COVID-19 vaccination clinics either already have been or will be held in all 55 counties across West Virginia this week through operation “Save Our Wisdom.”

Each clinic location has its own, unique schedule. Names are being pulled from the West Virginia COVID-19 Vaccine Registration System to fill out appointments. All clinics require appointments and walk-ins will not be accepted.

Vaccine supplies are limited, so pre-registration does not mean immediate access to vaccination. Pre-registration offers West Virginians the opportunity to receive real-time updates on vaccine availability and schedule an appointment when available as vaccine supplies allow. The vaccine registration system allows people to select their preferences for communication through text, email, or voicemail over regular phone lines.

COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS UPDATE
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice reported that the current number of active cases in the state is now 5,811, up from 5,581 as of his previous COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.

The number of active hospitalizations is now 231, up from 212 hospitalizations on Wednesday. Of those currently hospitalized, 81 patients are in the ICU, up from 73 such patients on Wednesday.

The cumulative percent of positive cases is now 5.27%, down from 5.28% on Wednesday.

Click here to view the latest COVID-19 data

FRIDAY MAP UPDATE
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice provided a look at West Virginia’s latest mid-week County Alert System map update.

The map is updated live on the DHHR’s COVID-19 Dashboard (Click "County Alert System" tab) throughout the week solely for informational purposes. On Wednesday, the Governor announced that this map will no longer be used to determine high school schedules in West Virginia.

Red counties: 0
Orange counties: 10
Gold counties: 5
Yellow counties: 8
Green counties: 32

OUTBREAK REPORT
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice reported that there remain eight active church-related outbreaks in West Virginia. These outbreaks are located in Braxton, Fayette, Monongalia, Nicholas, Raleigh, and Webster counties and account for a total of 105 cases.

There are now three active outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state, up from two such outbreaks as of his previous COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.

The Governor also reported that there are now just seven inmate cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) system, down from 33 such cases on Wednesday. Meanwhile, there are now nine active staff cases across the DCR system, up from six such cases on Wednesday. To view the latest DCR case update, click here.

AGGRESSIVE TESTING CONTINUES ACROSS STATE
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice provided an overview of the 51 counties across the state that have free testing events scheduled through the Governor’s Aggressive Testing initiative.
This testing is available to all residents, including asymptomatic individuals. Proof of insurance is not required. Attendees should bring identification, such as a driver’s license or proof of address, to help in returning test results. Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

An interactive online map of all free testing locations across West Virginia is available online. Users can filter the map by type of testing site, including daily testing events, recurring testing events, as well as Walgreens and Fruth Pharmacy testing locations. Users can also filter by county. Each location is marked on the map with a pin. After finding a testing location nearby, users are able to click on the pin for more information about that particular testing site, including the specific location and timeframe during which testing will be held.

Click here to view all locations, dates, times, and more details

REMINDER: ALL TYPES OF LIVE MUSIC PERFORMANCES NOW PERMITTED; SUMMER CAMPS ALLOWED TO RESUME MAY 1
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice took time to provide a reminder of his announcement Wednesday that he had signed Executive Order 9-21, which now allows all types of live music performances to resume, provided that all applicable safety guidelines are followed properly.

CLICK TO VIEW: A Guide to Safely Hosting Live Performances

The same executive order also allows all summer camps to resume on May 1, 2021, again provided that all applicable safety guidelines are followed properly.

CLICK TO VIEW: Guidance for Summer Camps

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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Banner Images Courtesy of the West Virginia Department of Commerce

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