West Virginia Week in Review - April 18, 2020: COVID-19 Update

4/18/2020

 

 

 

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COVID-19 Response Weekly Update
April 11 - April 17

 

 

 

This week, Gov. Jim Justice and State health leaders continued the fight to slow the spread of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The Justice Administration is working to keep the public informed of the many measures being taken in the interest of protecting them from the spread of the disease.

Additional information about COVID-19 and what West Virginia is doing to combat the virus can be found on Coronavirus.wv.gov or by calling the state's 24/7 hotline at 1-800-887-4304.

A list of all of Gov. Justice's actions and executive orders related to COVID-19 are also available online.

 

 

 

Friday, April 17: Gov. Justice orders all nursing home residents and staff statewide to be tested for COVID-19

 

 

 

On Friday, Gov. Justice issued an Executive Order, directing the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia National Guard to test every nursing home resident and staff member throughout the state.

Residents and staff members who have previously been tested will be retested to ensure the most up-to-date results possible. The Governor has directed that this effort begin immediately to provide more aggressive support to West Virginia’s nursing home population.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice also directed the DHHR to file an order requiring all laboratories across West Virginia to provide immediate, real-time electronic reports of both positive and negative COVID-19 tests to the DHHR and to their respective local health departments.

 

 

 

Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice offered his support to President Donald J. Trump and his three-phased plan of Opening Up America Again.

“We need to, some way, transition out of this disease and get our engine back going and get back to work,” Gov. Justice said. “Now, as I’ve said over and over, I’m not going to back away from protecting you and listening to our medical experts. But I can tell you that it’s a priority, beyond belief, to get you back to doing the things that you would like to do with your life and get West Virginians back to work.”

 

 

 

Gov. Justice also provided an update on the State’s expedited processing of unemployment claims, reporting that more than 14,000 claims were processed Thursday alone.

With 130,000 unemployment claims into Workforce West Virginia since the beginning of March, efforts continue to clear the backlog and provide assistance to West Virginians as quickly as possible.

Click here for more information on applying for unemployment benefits

 

 

 

Finally, Gov. Justice offered a reminder to all West Virginians to take the opportunity to complete 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 ten years for the state and its local communities. The funds can go toward things like healthcare, education, infrastructure, school lunch programs, and more.

Respond to the Census online at 2020census.gov

 

 

 

Thursday, April 16: West Virginia receives $625 million in federal funding to aid State coronavirus response

 

 

 

On Thursday, Gov. Justice announced West Virginia has received $625 million in funding from the federal government to assist the State in its ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Governor added that West Virginia will also receive an additional $625 million within the next two weeks, making for a combined federal stimulus total of $1.25 billion.

“All along, I have believed that our President and Congress would do the right thing and get us the money we are going to need to rebuild West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “I want to commend President Trump and our all our Congressional delegation for securing this money. We are grateful beyond belief.”

 

 

 

Also Thursday, Gov. Justice participated in a videoconference with President Donald J. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and all of the governors across America.

“It was all about ‘Opening Up America Again,’” Gov. Justice said. “There were a lot of guidelines that he’s given us, as states, to open back up. It would be my goal to get us back to work and a life that’s close to the way we were before. But, my number one job is to protect you all as best I possibly can. We will use our experts, we will use the guidelines from the President, we will absolutely use every means possible to make the very best decisions we can possibly make.”

 

 

 

Gov. Justice also announced that, in order to provide assistance to West Virginia’s hospitals, he has directed the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to immediately send out $69 million in directed payment program checks to hospitals across the state.

The checks were due to go out in June, but are being sent now to help infuse cash into hospitals as they manage through the pandemic.

 

 

 

Wednesday, April 15: Gov. Justice announces that discussions on “Phase 2” of coronavirus response are underway

 

 

 

On Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that he has begun to have discussions with medical experts and other officials about transitioning into the next phase of the State’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

While discussions are ongoing, the Governor did say that a main tenant of this so-called “Phase 2” would be to fine-tune the testing process for COVID-19.

“There’s lots and lots of contingencies that are already in the works on how we’re going to be able to go about doing this and, as we get further down the line, we want to be able to test on a widespread basis in a much more dramatic way than we’ve done before,” Gov. Justice said.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice also announced that checks, valued at $100,000 each, went out to all 55 counties across West Virginia to allow for men and women on the front lines fighting the spread of COVID-19 to receive “Hero Pay” for their service to the state.

The funds may only be used by counties, cities, and municipalities to cover expenses that are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announced Wednesday that many small businesses across West Virginia are seeing relief from President Trump’s Paycheck Protection Program.

As of April 13, 2020, there have been 5,211 loans approved for West Virginia qualified participants, totaling more than $1.05 billion.

 

 

 

During the address, the Governor reiterated that any decisions on re-opening schools will be made with the health and safety of students and teachers as the top priority.

“Never, no way on this planet, am I going to think about putting our students or our teachers back into a school setting until I’ve been advised, over and over, by our experts that we are good to go,” Gov. Justice said.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice also clarified that the State Holiday that typically accompanies West Virginia’s Primary Election Day has been moved to match the new primary date: June 9, 2020.

For more information on West Virginia's elections, visit GoVoteWV.com.

 

 

 

The Governor also announced that he has directed leaders with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia National Guard to address inconsistencies in the ways that the State has been collecting data on COVID-19 cases.

“We’re bringing in additional resources to amp that up to where our reporting is better, more timely, and accurate,” Gov. Justice said. “I’m not going to tolerate it being inaccurate in any way.”

 

 

 

Tuesday, April 14: Gov. Justice announces numbers trending in right direction, but urges West Virginians to “stay the course”

 

 

 

On Tuesday, Gov. Justice provided another update on the number of COVID-19 cases in the state, saying that West Virginians’ commitment to practicing good social distancing and staying home has the state “trending in a great way.”

“We absolutely have to stay the course,” Gov. Justice said. “But you can see the results are really rock solid and, really, if we can keep trending this way, hopefully we can go back to a way of life where we’re working, and even the possibility of school, and absolutely our polls will be open for a June 9th election, and all the good things.

“We’ve got to be cautious. I don’t want to send everybody out dancing in the streets right yet. But, absolutely, we’re getting there and we’re getting better.”

 

 

 

Gov. Justice also provided an update on the State’s efforts to ensure that students across West Virginia are continuing to be well-nourished and fed during the ongoing statewide school closure, through a collaborative effort between the West Virginia Department of Education, Tourism Office, National Guard, and Department of Agriculture.

“We now have a weekly capability of administering 1 million meals per week to the students of West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “This operation is unlike anything we’ve ever done before. But it’s exactly what West Virginians always seem to do in times of trouble.”

Click here to read more about this multi-agency effort

 

 

 

The Governor also provided an update on a recent surge in coronavirus cases at a Wayne County nursing home. 

With 36 patients and 30 employees testing positive, the Governor announced that the West Virginia National Guard and the Department of Health and Human Resources are “working closely with the Wayne County Health Department to ensure and try to help in every way possible to get everybody through this.”

 

 

 

Monday, April 13: Gov. Justice: “We’ll just keep fighting this battle as hard as we can possibly fight it”

 

 

 

On Monday, Gov. Justice commended all West Virginians for their willingness to continue the fight against the spread of COVID-19 by practicing good social distancing through Easter weekend.

“I really appreciate all those that, on Easter Sunday, were able to abide by our social distancing as much as possible and our Stay At Home order,” Gov. Justice said. “I feel certain that, as a whole, we were able to worship and be respectful of Easter, one of the greatest holidays along with Christmas.”

The Governor also announced that numbers continue to show that West Virginia is doing relatively well in terms of containing the spread of COVID-19. However, the Governor also mourned several individuals who lost their battle with the virus over the weekend.

“Believe me, I hate like crazy to make that report to you,” Gov. Justice said. “Cathy and I pray every day that some way, somehow this incline will stop. We know that probably that’s not going to be the case because we are the highest risk state. And we’ve done amazingly well from the standpoint of all of you and what you’ve done as West Virginians. But, still, it’s just tough.

“We send our thoughts and prayers out to all,” Gov. Justice continued. “We’ll just keep fighting this battle as hard as we can possibly fight it.”

 

 

 

An Executive Order was issued by Gov. Justice, adding Jackson County to the list of community clusters for the spread of the virus. The order gives the local health departments in those counties the authority to further restrict and tighten rules on social distancing and essential services.

Twelve counties across West Virginia have now received this designation.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice also announced that he has directed the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to issue a one-time, $500 payment to current recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), also known as WV WORKS, as part of the state’s ongoing response to COVID-19.

“There’s a bunch of people out there that this can help,” Gov. Justice said. “This is a one-time payment, but we’re very, very hopeful that this can bridge some difficult times.”

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announced that the West Virginia National Guard has put together a mobile sanitizing trailer that can be deployed across the state to sanitize N-95 masks using FDA approved hydrogen peroxide vapors. This method can sanitize N-95 masks up to 20 times and we are able to process 1,500 masks every three hours.

The Governor also announced that a network of West Virginians have come together to begin developing more of these N-95 masks. The West Virginia National Guard, in collaboration with researchers from West Virginia University, and our colleges and community and technical colleges, have developed a solution to address the critical personal protective equipment shortage.

After working on a prototype, the National Guard stood up a Task Force to coordinate the production of PPE throughout the state. Total daily production could reach as high as 2,500 masks, with the ultimate goal of being able to produce enough masks for every West Virginian.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice reported that he took part in a conference call with Vice President Mike Pence, where he requested additional gowns and gloves for healthcare workers on the front lines of fighting COVID-19 in West Virginia.

“I asked them to step up and do that. The response was very positive from the Vice President and his team,” Gov. Justice said. “I also asked that they give us the extension to be able to extend the funding of our National Guard to 500 guardsmen for 60 days. I think that will come very quickly.”

 

 

 

Gov. Justice also announced that, in response to the United States Department of Transportation suspending its prohibition on food trucks at federally funded rest areas, the West Virginia Division of Highways has set guidelines allowing for food trucks at rest areas as a temporary measure to ease the burden on truck drivers during the ongoing pandemic.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice also signed an Executive Order at the request of the West Virginia Board for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology that gives the board discretion to waive the five-day limitation on out-of-state licensees practicing speech-language pathology and audiology in West Virginia. 

 

 

 

Sunday, April 12: Gov. Justice wishes a Happy Easter to all West Virginians

 

 

 

On Sunday, Gov. Justice released a video message, wishing all West Virginians a Happy Easter and thanking the public for the sacrifices that are being made across the state in the interest of slowing the spread of COVID-19.

 

 

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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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