West Virginia Week in Review - August 15, 2020












Gov. Justice announces West Virginia School Re-entry Metrics and Protocols




During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Jim Justice joined State education and health leaders to unveil the new metric and color code system that will determine how in-person instruction, athletics, and other extracurricular activities are conducted at West Virginia’s pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade schools, to ensure the safety of students, teachers, service personnel, and the community as a whole. The School Re-entry Metrics and Protocols – developed by Gov. Justice, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), and the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) – provide a consistent tool that will assess community transmission. The color-coded system is driven by data and science to monitor the level of COVID-19 in each county.




The system will be based on each county’s number of new daily cases per 100,000 people on a seven-day rolling average. This figure will be calculated and updated by the DHHR. Based on that figure, each county will be assigned one of four colors – green, yellow, orange, or red – which is meant to represent the severity of the rate of community spread.

An online map, tracking each county’s performance in the metric and associated color status, is published on the West Virginia COVID-19 dashboard (under the "Overview" tab, select "Click here to view incidence rate"). The map will be updated daily for informational purposes. However, each county’s officially designated status will be determined on a weekly basis. At approximately 9 p.m. each Saturday, each county will receive an official color status that will remain in place through the following Saturday evening.




Gov. Justice temporarily restricts nursing home visitation




After reporting during Wednesday’s briefing that 28 active outbreaks of COVID-19 have now been identified in nursing homes across the state, Gov. Justice announced that he has issued an executive order, temporarily prohibiting all visitation in all of West Virginia’s nursing home facilities, except in cases of compassionate care due to end-of-life or deteriorating physical and/or mental health. The visitation stoppage went into effect on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, at 12:01 a.m.

“We have got to try, with all in us, to some way calm this down,” Gov. Justice said. “I know how much it means for your mom, dad, grandma, or granddad to be able to see you and for you to see them. But, at the same time, we cannot come in every other day and lose 12 people without trying everything we can to stop it.”

The Governor’s new visitation restriction announced Wednesday does not apply to assisted living facilities.

On Friday, Gov. Justice announced that all 84 residents at the West Virginia Veterans Nursing Facility tested negative for COVID-19. The Governor ordered the facility to be retested earlier this week. To-date, 183 staff members tested negative, while nine additional staff tests remain pending.




Gov. Justice issues executive order extending Monongalia County bar closure




On Wednesday, Gov. Justice issued another executive order, extending the closure of all bars in Monongalia County for an additional seven days. The new order extends the countywide bar closure until Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. The order keeps all Monongalia County bars closed for the on-premises consumption of food or drinks or occupancy by the general public. However, customers are still permitted to pick up food or drinks to be taken away. The order maintains that patrons are allowed to be seated, for dining, at tables and bar tops within "bar areas" of restaurants, hotels, and other similar facilities, subject to the same limitations that are in place for restaurants.

Fall move-in week for West Virginia University students in Morgantown is scheduled to begin Saturday, August 15, and continue through Saturday, August 22.




Gov. Justice commits to President Trump’s plan to extend unemployment benefits for West Virginians through the end of 2020




During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that the State is prepared to do its part to ensure that unemployed West Virginians will be able to continue receiving benefits through the end of 2020.

“We cannot let our people that are sitting out there with no job – not knowing how in the world they’re going to pay rent, or keep from being evicted, or making their car payment, or putting food on the table – to just sit out there and wilt on the vine,” Gov. Justice said.

Over the weekend, President Donald J. Trump signed four executive orders, which extend federal enhanced unemployment insurance benefits to the end of 2020, at a rate of $400 per week. Under the order, $300 of the weekly total is to be paid for by the federal government, while the remaining $100 is to be paid for by each state.




Gov. Justice provides update on COVID-19 testing in correctional facilities




On Friday, Gov. Justice announced that enhanced testing at South Central Regional Jail was completed on-schedule Wednesday. More than 460 inmates and 80 staff were tested, with no new positive cases being identified since the Governor's previous update at Wednesday's press briefing. The facility remains on lockdown to eliminate movement within the jail. There are also no new inmate cases at the Southern Regional Jail. The West Virginia National Guard sanitized the medical unit at SRJ on Thursday. The number of active cases among staff at the facility remains at eight, with two additional recoveries.




Gov. Justice unveils all-new emotional strength hotline




On Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced an all-new service, called HELP304, which is funded by FEMA and administered by the DHHR to help West Virginians deal with COVID-19-related stress. West Virginians can call or text 1-877-HELP-304 (1-877-435-7304) or chat online at www.HELP304.com to receive free help from trained crisis counselors who can listen to concerns, help sort out emotions, and provide connections to community resources.




Gov. Justice announces pre-installation work underway at Kids Connect sites




Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that pre-installation work as part of his new Kids Connect program is underway at sites across the state where new equipment is needed. Last week, Gov. Justice announced that he had pledged $6 million for Kids Connect – a joint effort between the Governor’s Office of Technology, the WVDE, and the Higher Education Policy Commission to establish over 1,000 free wireless internet access points statewide, allowing all West Virginia students to have a safe and reliable way to access their assignments online.

An interactive map of all 1,006 potential Kids Connect locations is available on the Department of Education’s website.




Gov. Justice presents fleet of food trucks to support West Virginia senior nutrition meal delivery programs




Gov. Justice presented a fleet of new hot & cold food trucks Tuesday that will allow more seniors across West Virginia to receive fresh meals in their homes through the State’s senior nutrition meal delivery programs: Meals on Wheels and Home-Delivered Meals. The Governor debuted the food trucks during an unveiling event at Stephens Auto Center in Boone County near Danville. A total of 16 new Ford F-150 trucks, which utilize hot and cold food storage systems, will be used by county aging programs across the state to bolster senior nutrition efforts and replace aging vehicles currently in use.




Gov. Justice awards $1.5 million to help ensure survival of hundreds of West Virginia fairs and festivals




Thursday, Gov. Justice held a virtual ceremony to award more than $1.5 million to a total of 330 fairs and festivals across West Virginia to help organizers and communities bridge the gap in a year where such events were forced to be canceled. The $1,566,388 will reimburse 330 fairs and festivals for the dollars they would have received out of the State budget to hold their respective events. Of the total amount, the Governor announced that $300,000 would be provided to support the State Fair of West Virginia. The Governor was joined by West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History Curator Randall Reid-Smith for the ceremony, along with organizers and leaders of various fairs and festivals from across the state.




Gov. Justice announces $20 million in paving projects across West Virginia




On Monday, Gov. Justice joined leaders with the West Virginia Department of Transportation for an event at North Central West Virginia Airport, where he announced that more than $20 million will be spent on paving projects, all across the state, as part of the Governor's Roads To Prosperity initiative. During Monday's event at NCWV Airport, Gov. Justice, WVDOT Secretary Byrd White, and Deputy Secretary Jimmy Wriston announced several new paving projects scheduled to take place over the next 45 days in North Central West Virginia. A total of $2.6 million in paving work will be completed within the West Virginia Division of Highways' District 4 counties of Doddridge, Harrison, Marion, Monongalia, Preston, and Taylor. In just the past 16 months, more than 300 miles of District 4 roadways have been paved. Additionally, more than 3,000 miles-worth of patching has been completed in District 4 in the same timeframe.




Gov. Justice announces additional testing locations for COVID-19




Gov. Justice updated the schedule of upcoming free community COVID-19 testing events taking place over the next several weeks at various dates and times in multiple counties across the state. The effort is part of a plan to provide free optional testing to all residents in several counties that are experiencing higher rates of COVID-19 transmission. It targets residents who have struggled to be seen by a physician or do not have insurance to pay for testing. However, other residents, including those who are asymptomatic are welcome to be tested.

Brooke County
Friday, August 14 & Saturday, August 15
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Bethany College
Hummel Field House: 6268 Main Street, Bethany, WV

Lewis County
Friday, August 14
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Saturday, August 15
9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Lewis County High School: 205 Minute Man Drive, Weston, WV

Lincoln County
Wednesday, August 19
10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Harts PK-8: 1246 McClellan Highway, Harts, WV 

Hancock County 
Friday, August 21
1:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Weir High School: 100 Red Rider Road, Weirton, WV 
Saturday, August 22
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Weir High School: 100 Red Rider Road, Weirton, WV 

Boone County
Tuesday, August 25
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Madison Civic Center: 261 Washington Avenue, Madison, WV

Lincoln County
Wednesday, August 26
10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Alum Creek Church of Christ: 2368 Childress Road, Alum Creek, WV 

Webster County
Saturday, August 29
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM 
Webster County High School: 1 Highlander Drive, Cowen, WV 

Nicholas County
Thursday, September 17
12:00 PM – 8:00 PM 
Nazarene Camp: 6461 Webster Road, Summersville, WV 




Gov. Justice attends groundbreaking ceremony for new Marshall University Bill Noe Flight School at Yeager Airport




Gov. Jim Justice took part in a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday to celebrate the start of construction on Marshall University’s new Bill Noe Flight School at Yeager Airport, just outside of Charleston in Kanawha County. The Governor joined leaders from Marshall University and Yeager Airport for the ceremony, along with U.S. Senators and several state, county, and local officials. The project involves the construction of a 10,500-square-foot classroom building and a 12,000-square-foot hangar.

Last year, Gov. Justice provided $400,000 in State matching funds to Yeager Airport for the construction of the new access road around the general aviation area to open up 25 acres of buildable land where the new Flight School will be built.




Two West Virginia educators earn national math and science honors




Two West Virginians are among the national list of educators honored with the 2020 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). President Donald J. Trump recently announced the recipients of this award as well as the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) which recognizes those who serve a critical support role in and outside of the classroom. The West Virginia honorees are Karen Donathan (math) of George Washington High School in Charleston, and Angela McKeen (science) of Notre Dame High School in Clarksburg.  
Established in 1983, the PAEMST represents the highest award bestowed by the U.S. government specifically for k-12 mathematics and science teaching, including computer science. 




West Virginia Service Personnel of the Year finalists announced




The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) announced five finalists for the West Virginia School Service Personnel of the Year Award. All finalists serve their counties as the 2020 County Service Personnel of the Year and include aides, bus operators, cooks, custodians, maintenance workers, office workers, and other school service personnel from across the state. This year’s finalists are Gail Artimez, Marshall County Schools; Stephanie Bennett, Upshur County Schools; Debra Dye, Wirt County High School, Wirt County; Susie Kirkpatrick, Gilmer County Schools; and Stephanie Toliver, Nitro Elementary School, Kanawha County. The announcement was made during the August meeting of the West Virginia Board of Education.




HHOMA highlights minority testing in Fairmont




On Wednesday, the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs released a video highlighting COVID-19 testing happening thanks to the COVID-19 Task Force on African American Disparities. The task force has helped sponsor free COVID-19 testing throughout West Virginia in minority and under-served communities. The video shows testing that happened on Saturday, August 1, in Fairmont.




Crane named Deputy Secretary of DHHR




On Wednesday, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Bill J. Crouch announced the appointment of Brigadier General Russell Crane a Deputy Secretary of DHHR, effective August 17, 2020. Crane most recently served as Assistant Adjutant General (Army) of the West Virginia National Guard, and as Deputy Commanding General, Training Support Division (East), First United States Army. After serving a highly decorated military career, including being awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Crane concluded his First Army duties in April 2019. Crane joins Jeremiah Samples who has served as a deputy secretary to Crouch since 2017.




WVDOT explains how the inspect bridges across West Virginia




On Wednesday, the West Virginia Department of Transportation released a video explaining how crews inspect bridges across the state. Bridge Inspector Don Burford said it all starts with planning. Routine inspections happen every two years for the majority of structures, some are every year. Inspectors examine any cracks in the bridge and document what they find with photographs. If necessary, the bridges are repaired.




WVDOT announces completion of I-77 lighting project




The West Virginia Division of Highways has completed a major lighting project along I-77 in Kanawha County. The project involved the installation of high mast lighting towers at the interchanges at Exit 106 (Edens Fork) and Exit 111 (Tuppers Creek). After the completion of a safety study, it was found that both areas lacked adequate lighting. The new lights will increase visibility and overall safety for commuters in the area. The $1.6 million project was funded with highway safety improvement funds. The project, which began in September of 2019, was completed by Davis H. Elliot Construction Company of Lexington, Kentucky.




Environment Matters showcases how woman turned sinkhole into water feature




On Thursday, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection released the latest edition of Environment Matters. The episode showcases a woman in Putnam County who has used recent free time due to the pandemic to turn a sinkhole in her yard into a water oasis.






West Virginians urged to participate in the 2020 Census




Once more, Gov. Justice asked all West Virginians to participate in 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 10 years for the state and its local communities. The funds can go toward things like healthcare, education, infrastructure, school lunch programs, and more.

Be counted in minutes: 2020census.gov.




Also this week:

WVDEP now accepting submissions for 2021 “Roadsides in Bloom” calendar contest

WVNG Challenge Academy holding job fair on August 20

WVDEP announces Brownfield Revolving Fund program




Contact Information

Jordan Damron, jordan.l.damron@wv.gov


Office of the Governor
State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E
Charleston, WV 25305

Office Phone:
304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

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