West Virginia Week in Review - August 8, 2020

8/8/2020

 

 

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Gov. Justice announces reopening plan for West Virginia schools

 

 

 

During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Jim Justice joined State education and health leaders to unveil the multifaceted plan that will be used to reopen all pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade schools in West Virginia and will also provide multiple options and resources to allow all students to resume their education.

Gov. Justice announced that the target date for school re-entry currently remains Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. Local data including community spread and infection rates will continue to be monitored to ensure students and staff are able to return to school safely. All 55 counties are required to submit their re-entry plans to the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) by Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. Each county will offer multiple options for instruction, including in-person instruction, virtual instruction, or a hybrid model. Parents and guardians will have the flexibility to select their preferred instruction model.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announced Wednesday that he has directed the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) and State medical experts to work with the WVDE to develop a metric that will be used to indicate when it is safe to go to school and when community transmission rises to a level where additional action may be necessary. The Governor announced that the metric, which is still in development, will be based on each county’s rate of COVID-19 cases over certain periods of time. As soon as the metric is finalized, it will be made publicly available. The numbers for each county will be posted to an online dashboard and a map for the public to see.

 

 

 

Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that in order to ensure all West Virginia students have the access to broadband that they need to participate in virtual or remote learning, he is committing $6 million to his new Kids Connect initiative. Under this program, the Governor’s Office of Technology will work alongside the WVDE and the Higher Education Policy Commission to establish over 1,000 free wireless internet access points statewide by Sept. 8, with locations in all 55 counties.

During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that the interactive map is now available on the West Virginia Department of Education’s website.

 

 

 

At Gov. Justice's direction, St. Francis Hospital to be stood up as COVID-19 surge facility

 

 

 

During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that, as a precautionary measure, he has directed the Department of Health and Human Resources to work with Thomas Health, the parent company of Saint Francis Hospital, to immediately stand up as a COVID-19 surge hospital. Initially, 15 beds will be prepared. This will be the first step toward implementing a surge hospital and testing whether it would be prepared to receive COVID-19 patients.

In April, Saint Francis Hospital reconfigured two floors and added beds and equipment to serve up to 75 coronavirus patients. The COVID-19 surge hospital is designed to treat coronavirus patients, diagnosed at medical facilities across the state, who are primarily in need of active short-term care or rehabilitation services. Transfers will be coordinated through DHHR and the Thomas Health Transfer Center. If and when St. Francis Hospital begins to accept COVID-19 patients, there will not be visitors. iPads will be provided to allow for scheduled virtual visits. Temperature checks will be performed on all those entering the facility and all patients must wear a face covering.

 

 

 

July starts new fiscal year with $243.9m surplus; FY2020 finishes at $28m surplus despite COVID-19 pandemic

 

 

 

On Monday, Gov. Justice joined state revenue officials for a virtual Economic Pandemic Impact Review briefing. The Governor announced that, with the final numbers now in the books, West Virginia ended July, the first month of fiscal year 2021, with a $243.9 million cash surplus, despite the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the state’s economy. Additionally, Gov. Justice announced that the State ended Fiscal Year 2020 with a budgetary surplus of $28 million.

 

 

 

The Governor announced Monday that, with the income tax filing deadline having been moved from April to July as a result of the pandemic, West Virginia finished the month of July with a $243.9 million cash surplus; the largest monthly cash balance for the first month of any fiscal year in state history.

“We now have nearly five times as much cash on-hand as we did at this same time last year,” Gov. Justice said. “We knew our income taxes would give us a great jumpstart for the rest of the year, but the results have exceeded even what many thought were possible.”

 

 

 

Gov. Justice, WVDOT announce Medical Access Road Projects

 

 

 

On Monday, under Gov. Justice’s plan to put $50 million of West Virginia's federal CARES Act funding toward road projects that will improve access to medical facilities across the state, the West Virginia Department of Transportation announced their new program to accomplish this mission: Medical Access Road Projects (MARP). The MARP program includes projects in all 55 counties, which will improve access to medical facilities for citizens. The DOT coordinated with local and county emergency officials to vet and prioritize the projects.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces seven active church outbreaks in five counties

 

 

 

On Friday, Gov. Justice announced that a total of seven church-related outbreaks remain active within five counties across West Virginia, including Cabell, Grant, Logan, Mason, and Taylor counties. These outbreaks account for about 89 total cases combined.

“I can’t urge you enough, I can’t tell you enough times: social distance, use good personal hygiene, wash your hands, keep a pew of distance in between you and the other people, and absolutely everybody needs to be wearing a face covering in church,” Gov. Justice said. 

 

 

 

WVNG, DHHR "run to the fire" after single cases in Clarksburg veterans nursing facility, Wood County courthouse

 

 

 

On Friday, Gov. Justice announced that he has directed soldiers with the West Virginia National Guard and health officials with the DHHR to “run to the fire” to test a pair of facilities where single COVID-19 tests came back positive this week. This week, a nurse at the West Virginia Veterans Nursing Facility in Clarksburg tested positive for COVID-19. However, the nurse has not been in the facility since July 26.

The Governor added that a separate confirmed case of COVID-19 was identified this week among an individual at the Wood County Courthouse.

“This is yet another example of just what we have done, over and over,” Gov. Justice said. “I can’t say it enough: we run to the fire. Our National Guard has done an incredible job.”

 

 

 

Gov. Justice directs DHHR and West Virginia National Guard to assist with rise in COVID-19 cases at two hospitals

 

 

 

Gov. Justice has directed the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia National Guard to closely monitor rises in COVID-19 cases in both staff and patients at Beckley ARH Hospital and Logan Regional Medical Center and to assist where needed. DHHR’s epidemiologists are working with the Logan County and Beckley-Raleigh County health departments as well as assisting the two hospitals with contact tracing. DHHR Cabinet Secretary Bill Crouch has been in contact with the chief executive officers of both hospitals on a regular basis. Under the direction of Major General James Hoyer, the WVNG will offer support for sanitization and deep-cleaning services. The Guard will also assess personal protective equipment needs for both hospitals.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces WV has 6th-lowest rate of virus spread in U.S.

 

 

 

On Friday, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia’s statewide rate of COVID-19 transmission – also known as Rt – has improved to the 6th-lowest such rate in the nation. At one point, before Gov. Justice instituted his statewide indoor face covering requirement, West Virginia’s Rt value was the worst in the country.

“When I made the wearing of face coverings mandatory, a lot of people pushed back and a lot of people didn’t like it,” Gov. Justice continued. “Still, there’s a lot of people who don’t like it, I’m one of them. But it works. We see it right here: it is working.”

 

 

 

Gov. Justice extends closure of Monongalia County bars for an additional 10 days

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announced last Saturday that he has issued an executive order​, extending the closure of all bars in Monongalia County for an additional 10 days. The new order extended the countywide bar closure – originally established under Executive Order 52-20, and extended under Executive Order 55-20 – until Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. The order was also requested by the Monongalia County Commission to help ensure the health and safety of citizens.

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.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces start of construction on Oakwood Intersection Improvement Project

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announced Friday the beginning of construction on the Oakwood Intersection Improvement Project along U.S. 119 in Kanawha County. The project will involve establishing a Restricted Crossing U-Turn – commonly known as an “R-CUT” – in the area to improve safety and decrease traffic light wait times. The $5.8 million project will be completed by Mountaineer Contractors, Inc., from Kingwood, WV.

From a design perspective, the R-CUT model is beneficial because it decreases the potential points of conflict that a regular intersection creates and poses no right-of-way issues for the WVDOT. Work completed during the project will also allow for further improvements along U.S. 119.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice urges against evictions during pandemic

 

 

 

Following his segment on school reopening plans Wednesday, Gov. Justice urged landowners, landlords, and banks to be patient with those who may not be able to pay rent and are facing the possibility of being evicted during a pandemic.

“We have people that are scared to death because they are going to get evicted from their homes or apartments,” Gov. Justice said. “I would plead with those landlords not to proceed down this course. 

 

 

 

Gov. Justice issues executive order giving WVDE flexibility

 

 

 

At the request of the West Virginia Department of Education, Gov. Justice issued an executive order Friday, giving the WVDE flexibility to maintain currently anticipated pay schedules and periods for teachers and school service personnel.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces additional free COVID-19 testing locations

 

 

 

Gov. Justice updated the schedule of free community COVID-19 testing events taking place over the next several weeks at various dates and times in Boone, Brooke, Jackson, Lewis, McDowell, and Taylor counties. 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.

Jackson County
August 7
12:00 PM - 6:00 PM
River Front Park: 220 Riverfront Park, Ravenswood, WV
August 8
12:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Cedar Lakes Conference Center: 82 FFA Drive, Ripley, WV

McDowell County
August 7
8:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Southside Middle School: 13509 Rocket Boys Drive, War, WV
August 8
8:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Tug Lot: 198 Tug Tower Addition Road, Welch, WV

Taylor County
August 8
8:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Grafton High School: 400 Yates Avenue, Grafton, WV

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

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

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

 

 

 

WVNG holds COVID-19 testing event in Logan County

 

 

 

Last Sunday, at the direction of Gov. Justice, the West Virginia National Guard provided assistance with COVID-19 testing in Logan County. The Guard, along with the Logan County Health Department and Logan County Emergency Ambulance Authority, swabbed individuals who wanted testing during the free event. The event was organized by the West Virginia DHHR, Logan County Health Department, and Logan County Emergency Management with assistance from the WVNG.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice, WVDHHR announce school clothing allowance application period opens

 

 

 

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bureau for Children and Families will begin accepting school clothing allowance applications on Tuesday, September 1, 2020, for eligible children enrolled in West Virginia schools.  Each eligible child will receive a $200 benefit that may be used toward the purchase of appropriate school clothing or piece goods for families who sew clothing for their children. The following will automatically receive school clothing allowance benefits for each school-age child in the home by the end of August:

  • Families with school-aged children currently receiving WV WORKS cash assistance
  • Those in foster care
  • Children ages 4-18 that receive SNAP, are enrolled in school and under 100% of the Federal Poverty Level

 

 

 

First Lady Cathy Justice announces expansion of Communities In Schools

 

 

 

On Thursday, First Lady Cathy Justice released a video announcing the expansion of the Communities In Schools program. The program is expanding to include eight additional counties — Brooke, Kanawha, Jackson, Mingo, Mercer, Wayne, Pochahontas, and Upshur. This will bring the CIS program is a total of 23 counties. The eight new counties will have 27 schools in the program. First Lady Justice has championed the program from the start of a pilot program in 2018.

 

 

 

Division of Highways announces Coalfields Expressway project nearing completion

 

 

 

On Thursday, the West Virginia Division of Highways shared a video on recent updates at the Coalfields Expressway (WV 121) project. It involves the construction of 8.87 miles of four-lane expressway. The project will connect the existing portion of WV 121 that currently ends at the junction of County Route 34, Slab Fork Road, to WV 54, just north of the Town of Mullens. The current project included the construction of the concrete roadway surface and shoulders, the installation of drainage structures & guardrails, and other related items. The project is scheduled to be completed in a few months.

 

 

 

WVDOT Secretary White talks about progress on Corridor H project

 

 

 

On Monday, the West Virginia Department of Transportation shared an update concerning the Corridor H project. This is one of the major expansion projects happening now in the state. Secretary of Transportation Byrd White gave an update on the major earthwork being completed by the contractor and how the project will open up West Virginia for tourism and economic development.

 

 

 

U.S. Department of Commerce invests $10.1 million in WV to support local strategies to spur business and job growth

 

 

 

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is investing $10.1 million in the state of West Virginia to protect businesses from flooding, spur growth in a critical industry sector, boost workforce training efforts, and provide infrastructure needed to support businesses, including those in Opportunity Zones. The EDA grants, to be matched with $3.4 million in local funds, are expected to help create or retain more than 2,500 jobs and spur $69 million in private investment.

“Once again President Donald Trump and his Administration have stepped up to help West Virginia, this time with over $10 million to help create or retain more than 2,500 jobs,” said Governor Jim Justice. “One of my highest priorities as governor is long-term economic development, and our state has been on the move like never before, but it’s continued support like this from President Trump and the EDA that’s going to help our people shine and springboard us to future prosperity.”

 

 

 

WVNG spotlights a senior airman working on the COVID-19 frontlines

 

 

 

The West Virginia National Guard has been shining a spotlight on Soldiers and Airmen who have worked tirelessly throughout West Virginia on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response. From packing food boxes to leading task forces to innovating new personal protection equipment, the Guard Soldiers and Airmen lead the way. Senior Airman Elizabeth King, 130th Airlift Wing, has been working behind the scenes to keep Soldiers and Airmen pay and human resources on track during the COVID-19 response mission.

 

 

 

DHS targets illegal drug activity with new statewide, 24/7 anonymous tip line

 

 

 

Gov. Justice has directed his Department of Homeland Security to establish West Virginia’s first statewide toll-free drug tip line, so residents can anonymously report illegal activity, through the WV Fusion Center’s new Narcotics Intelligence Unit. Launched Aug. 1, the West Virginia Drug Tip Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (833) 905-DRUG (3784) for callers to speak with a staff member trained to receive such information. Information can also be submitted online: go.wv.gov/drugtips.

 

 

 

WVDNR shares tips for introducing kids to archery

 

 

 

Families looking for an alternative to school-based sports or an outdoor activity their kids can enjoy have plenty of options in West Virginia thanks to archery and other bow-shooting programs. And with the COVID-19 pandemic creating uncertainty over participation in traditional team sports this school year, now is a great time to start, say West Virginia Division of Natural Resources officials. West Virginia started its Archery in the Schools program in 2004 with 18 schools. Since then, more than 200,000 kids have gone through the program, which is now available in more than 300 public and private schools around the state.

 

 

 

WVDOH shares update on Glenville roundabout project

 

 

 

On Tuesday, the West Virginia Divison of Highways shared an update on work being doing in Glenville to construct a roundabout near the Glenville State campus. Temporary road construction for The College Street/ Mineral Road I/S Project is nearly complete, which will move the project into the next phase of construction. The next phase includes the construction of a retaining wall and the actual construction of the roundabout. Soft material where the new roadway is to be constructed has been encountered, however, the crew was quick to meet and take quick action to come up with a solution.

 

 

 

WVDEP Environment Matters spotlights virtual clean up in Huntington

 

 

 

On Thursday, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection released an Environment Matters episode spotlighting the crews at Fourpole Creek Watershed Association who are holding a virtual cleanup event in Huntington for the next two weeks. Because of precautions related to the COVID pandemic, rather than get together as a group for a one-day event, members are spreading out their efforts individually during the first two weeks of August.

 

YouTube 

YouTube

 

 

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 announces $48,367 in Litter Control Matching grants

WVDHHR: ODCP Launches Treatment and Recovery Resource Map

WVNG welcomes home returning members of the 150th Cavalry Regiment

WVDEP partnering with Forks of Coal State Natural Area Foundation to host virtual webinar

 

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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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