West Virginia Week in Review - April 4, 2020: COVID-19 Update

4/4/2020

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COVID-19 Response Weekly Update
March 28 - April 4
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 precautionary 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. 
WV COVID-19 Newsroom WV COVID-19 Newsroom
Friday, April 3: Gov. Justice reports first community cluster COVID-19, encourages residents to stay calm, keep practicing social distancing
Governor Jim Justice reported on Friday that West Virginia’s first community cluster outbreak of COVID-19 has been identified in the Eastern Panhandle. A total of 60 positive cases were confirmed in Berkeley and Jefferson counties.

Gov. Justice signed an Executive Order to further protect West Virginians in Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan counties as COVID-19 continues to spread in the Eastern Panhandle. 

The Order applies to Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan counties ONLY and gives broad authority to their local health departments. 

Provisions of the Executive Order include:
  • Limiting groups to a maximum of 5 people.
  • Directing ALL businesses to require employees to work from home to the maximum extent possible. 
  • Directing the Local Health Departments to establish the maximum occupancy of and proper social distance within essential businesses and taking action to enforce these health regulations. 
  • Directing the West Virginia National Guard to provide logistical support and services to assist county agencies.
  • Directing West Virginia State Police to assist with enforcement of local county orders.
The Governor has directed his medical experts to continue to work with local health departments throughout West Virginia to ensure each county has the tools they need to best respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, Gov. Justice announced that President Donald J. Trump granted a request for an expedited major disaster declaration for West Virginia, triggering the release of federal funds to help communities recover from COVID-19. 

The declaration makes available funding to the state, and eligible local governments as well as certain private nonprofit organizations, for emergency protective measures including direct federal assistance in all areas of West Virginia impacted by the virus.
Gov. Justice also announced that he will secure additional resources to assist Workforce West Virginia with processing unemployment claims due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning April 6th, the Workforce West Virginia call line will operate 24/7 and the West Virginia National Guard will provide staff members to get the backlog of calls under control. 
Gov. Justice announced also announced on Thursday that through the West Virginia Department of Education, over one million meals have been provided to West Virginia children during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The West Virginia Department of Education has worked closely with the West Virginia National Guard, West Virginia Department of Agriculture and Division of Tourism to provide nutritional stability for children throughout the state.
Gov. Justice expressed the importance of silencing rumors as the state continues to battle COVID-19.

With many false reports circulating on social media, he wanted to clarify the following:

•    The West Virginia State Police are NOT stopping traffic at state borders.
•    The State Police are NOT pulling over vehicles just because they have               out-of-state plates.
•    The West Virginia National Guard is NOT being used to enforce a lockdown.
•    There is NO curfew and there is NO national quarantine.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources unveiled a new data dashboard on the COVID-19 website.

The goal is to provide as much information to the public as possible, including specific resources for schools, emergency personnel and the general public.
The West Virginia National Guard reported that 440 National Guard personnel are on duty with that number expected to be approximately 500 by Monday.

A rundown of the programs and projects the National Guard are supporting can be found here. 
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Thursday, April 2: Gov. Justice says West Virginia still trending the right way on minimizing COVID-19 cases
On Thursday, Gov. Jim Justice applauded West Virginians for their effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reiterated the importance of proper handwashing, safe social distancing, and staying home as much as possible. 

The Governor also praised healthcare workers and front line personnel for helping minimize the number of deaths and illnesses from the pandemic.

West Virginia’s second death attributable to COVID-19 was confirmed Wednesday in Jackson County, and Gov. Justice asked all residents to keep the family, friends and loved ones of the victim in their thoughts and prayers.
Gov. Justice also said, despite a letter from some legislative leaders calling for cancellation of the rest of the school year, that he was not ready to make that decision yet.

State Schools Superintendent Clayton Burch added that he remains optimistic about returning to school and feels that maintaining that attitude is necessary for the well-being of students. 

Superintendent Burch also noted that the West Virginia Department of Education and West Virginia Public Broadcasting have partnered up and will begin offering 30-minute educational segments that WVPB will broadcast every Tuesday and Thursday between 9 and 9:30 am. 
The West Virginia National Guard announced that a total of 420 Soldiers and Airmen are now on duty supporting COVID-19 response efforts across the state. 

Attorney General Patrick Morrissey warned against price gouging, landlord-tenant issues and other consumer problems individuals might face as the state battles COVID-19. The West Virginia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection hotline can be reached toll-free at 1-800-368-8808 or online at ago.wv.gov. 
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Wednesday, April 1: Gov. Justice signs executive order to move Primary Election to June 9 after consultation with Attorney General, Secretary of State
Gov. Jim Justice announced on Wednesday that after consulting with the state’s medical experts, along with Secretary of State Mac Warner and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia’s 2020 Primary Election is being moved to June 9 instead of the originally scheduled date of May 12.

The decision was part of a continued effort to minimize person-to-person contact and slow the spread of COVID-19. 

View the Executive Order here. 
On Wednesday, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources confirmed the second coronavirus-related death in the state of West Virginia.

The Jackson County resident was said to have several underlying health issues and passed away while at the hospital. To protect the patient’s privacy, no additional details were released.
Gov. Justice said that after speaking with State Schools Superintendent Clayton Burch, the decision was made to extend the statewide school closure through April 30th, in conjunction with President Donald J. Trump’s recent declaration.

Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s COVID-19 Czar, said that after President Trump’s medical experts placed the possible U.S. Death toll between 100,000 and 240,000, it should raise concern but reminded West Virginians they have the power to significantly reduce the effects of the pandemic in our state.

The West Virginia National Guard provided an update that 400 soldiers are mobilized throughout the state and continue to provide guidance, support, and assistance across the spectrum.
Gov. Justice also reported that the state’s revenue collections in March were nearly $12.3 million above estimate and 8.9% ahead of last year. This corresponds to year-to-date collections of more than $3.3 billion and overall are at more than 99.8% of the year-to-date estimate and 0.3% ahead of last year. The shortfall for Fiscal Year 2020, is slightly more than $6.4 million.

Gov. Justice also reminded West Virginians that April 1st is Census Day in the United States. West Virginia relies on accurate reporting to secure federal dollars that benefit local schools, roads and other important programs.
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Gov. Jim Justice also issued the following statement on Wednesday after learning of the acquisition of Williamson Memorial Hospital by the Williamson Health & Wellness Center.

“We got really great news today from Mingo County and I’m excited that Williamson Memorial Hospital is going to remain open for the community,” said Gov. Jim Justice. “I told you yesterday that private negotiations were underway and they have obviously come to fruition with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court approving a bid from Williamson Health & Wellness Center to purchase most of the hospital’s assets. They plan to continue critical functions at the hospital and add new services. It’s a real blessing for Williamson and Mingo County and I am extremely appreciative and thankful.”​
Tuesday, March 31: Gov. Justice orders halt to elective medical procedures, closes private campgrounds to out-of-state visitors
Gov. Jim Justice issued two executive orders on Tuesday – one to suspend all elective medical procedures and the other directing private campgrounds to prohibit new, out-of-state campers in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Cathy Slemp, State Public Health Officer, said 185 sites across West Virginia are now performing testing for COVID-19 and that some 4,000 state residents have been tested.

Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch said the agency’s Bureau for Children and Families has been granted two waivers from the federal government for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as part of an ongoing response to COVID-19.

The West Virginia National Guard announced that nearly 370 Soldiers and Airmen are on duty supporting COVID-19 response efforts. Those efforts include delivery of medical supplies, providing assistance to food banks and helping with traffic control at a drive through testing facility in Huntington. 
Also on Tuesday, Gov. Justice expressed the importance for every West Virginian to fill out the 2020 U.S. Census. The state relies on accurate reporting to secure federal dollars that benefit local schools, roads and other important programs.
The West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration issued an advisory to the state’s retail liquor outlets after reports of an influx of out-of-state and in-state individuals purchasing liquor in West Virginia.

The advisory asks all retail liquor outlets to practice social distancing and limit the number of people congregating in any retail liquor outlet to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 
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Monday, March 30: Gov. Justice issues Executive Order requiring out-of-state citizens to self-quarantine for 14 days, closes state park campgrounds
Gov. Justice issued an executive order on Monday requiring out-of-state citizens to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the Mountain State and authorized the West Virginia State Police to monitor state roads and highways to enforce that order. He also made the decision to close state park campgrounds.

Earlier on Monday, Gov. Justice participated in a teleconference with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence along with other governors from across the country.
Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard, indicated that 350 members of the National Guard are now on duty and continue to assist in the areas of medical supplies, production of supplies and equipment, and feeding programs.

DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch said essential workers who are out traveling and doing the various tasks to help serve the community need to remain vigilant as well and if they experience fever or other symptoms that they should contact their medical provider immediately.
State Public Health Officer Dr. Cathy Slemp indicated that analysis of testing and investigation results continue and information is being updated on the DHHR website as it becomes available.
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Sunday, March 29: First West Virginian passes away from COVID-19; Governor and First Lady Justice issue statement
On Sunday, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources confirmed that an 88-year old female from Marion County died as a result of COVID-19.

To protect the patient’s privacy, no additional details were released.

Governor Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice issued the following statement after learning of the first West Virginian to pass away from COVID-19.

“I ask all West Virginians to join Cathy and I in praying for the family, friends, and loved ones of this individual,” Gov. Justice said. “It is truly a sad day in West Virginia.”

“We are working around the clock, along with members of my administration, and the top medical experts in our state to do absolutely everything we can to protect West Virginians.

“Our healthcare personnel across the state are real heroes,” Gov. Justice added. “They deserve our love and support during this time because they are committed to caring for our citizens that fall ill.

“I implore all West Virginians to continue to stay at home, limit their exposure to others, keep practicing good hygiene, and if you feel sick seek medical attention right away. Be vigilant, stay calm and do your part to help us keep battling this pandemic.”
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Saturday, March 28: Gov. Justice, Dr. Marsh discuss COVID-19 response and plans with governors of Ohio, Pennsylvania
On Saturday, Gov. Jim Justice and West Virginia COVID-19 Czar Dr. Clay Marsh joined Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, along with their state health experts, on a call to discuss COVID-19 response plans and to reinforce lines of communication between the states.  
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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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