West Virginia Week in Review - December 12, 2020

12/12/2020

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Gov. Justice provides new details on phases of vaccine allocation plan
On Friday, Gov. Jim Justice provided new details on the different phases of the state’s vaccine allocation plan. The Governor explained that there will be two main phases of vaccine allocation. Phase 1 will include those at the highest risk of serious complications from COVID-19, as well as individuals who are essential frontline workers fighting this pandemic. Phase 2 is the general population. Phase 1 is broken down into four subsections: Phase 1-A through Phase 1-D.

Phase 1-A includes hospital, long-term care facility and staff, and pharmacies.

Phase 1-B includes community infrastructure and emergency response, public health officials, and first responders.

Phase 1-C includes other healthcare workers, like home health providers.

Phase 1-D includes teachers and education staff in higher education and K-12 and other sectors for critical services for our state, such as utility and transportation workers.
Meanwhile on Friday, members of the West Virginia Joint Interagency Task Force for Vaccines held a Rehearsal of Concepts (ROC) drill at the WVNG Joint Forces Headquarters in Charleston to finalize operational plans for and to simulate COVID-19 vaccine shipment receipt, handling, and distribution processes to Phase 1 recipients across the Mountain State.

The Governor also announced that, Friday, the state will be placing its initial order for the 32,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine; the maximum ordering cap allowed for West Virginia at this time. The FDA independent advisory committee will meet again next Thursday, Dec. 17, to discuss Moderna’s request for Emergency Use Authorization.
On Monday, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia officials had submitted the state’s initial vaccine order to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In total, 16,575 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were ordered, the maximum weekly ordering cap allowed for West Virginia at this time. The Governor announced that West Virginia plans to receive an initial allocation of approximately 60,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
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Gov. Justice announces new rapid testing lab established at WVU
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice followed up on West Virginia University's announcement that they have teamed up with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to create a new Rapid Development Lab at the WVU Health Sciences Center in Morgantown. This new lab will be used to develop, validate, and implement complex diagnostic testing for COVID-19. The lab will provide quicker test results, and it will reduce costs to the state because it can process tests more inexpensively than commercial laboratories.
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Gov. Justice: 100,000 face coverings being provided to West Virginia seniors
On Friday, Gov. Justice offered his appreciation to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living for donating 100,000 face coverings to the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services this week. These face coverings will be distributed throughout the West Virginia Aging Network to senior centers in all 55 counties.
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Blue lights at Capitol Complex honor Officer Cassie Johnson
Tuesday marked the day of services for Officer Johnson. As a tribute to her sacrifice and in honor of the selfless service of all West Virginia law enforcement officers, Gov. Justice requested that the dome of the Capitol Building and the front of the Governor’s Mansion in Charleston be lit in blue Tuesday night.

“We did it after dark, and you could see the Mansion and the Capitol – the way they were lit up – it was beautiful,” Gov. Justice said. “I talked to her family yesterday morning and I asked for their permission to do this. They were super-kind and they said that Cassie would love that and they know that she could see it; she was there, and I know that in my heart too.”

The Governor also issued a proclamation, ordering all United States and West Virginia flags at the Capitol Complex and all State-owned facilities in Kanawha County be displayed at half-staff, from dawn to dusk, on Tuesday, the day of the services celebrating her life.
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Governor and First Lady Justice host virtual Joyful Night celebration
On Tuesday, Gov. Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice hosted a festive evening virtually featuring many beloved holiday traditions and several captivating performances by West Virginians from near and far to ring in the holiday season. This year’s Joyful Night included special holiday messages from Gov. Justice, First Lady Justice, and West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History Curator Randall Reid-Smith, who served as the event emcee. The event also featured the lighting of the state Christmas tree by Governor and First Lady Justice. This year’s tree was furnished by Raymond and Melinda Dowdy of Tornado, WV. Raymond, a Navy Veteran, donated the tree in honor of all Veterans across West Virginia. The Governor and First Lady also performed the traditional reading of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and spotlighted several additional trees that will stand outside the Governor’s Mansion in honor of West Virginia’s first responders, military members, Gold Star families, and – new this year – healthcare workers.
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First Lady Cathy Justice provides overview of Christmas Trees at Capitol Complex; announces winners of student ornament competition
On Thursday, First Lady Cathy Justice provided an overview of all the various Christmas Trees that will be on display at the West Virginia Capitol Complex in Charleston throughout the holiday season. The trees include:
  • 2020 State Christmas Tree, furnished by Raymond and Melinda Dowdy of Tornado, WV. Raymond, a Navy Veteran, donated the tree in honor of all Veterans across West Virginia.
  • Four Honor Trees decorated in honor of West Virginia’s First Responders, Gold Star Families, Military and Veterans, and Healthcare Workers.
  • Four Communities In Schools Trees, which are decorated with ornaments made by students from all 23 counties in the CIS program.
  • The 2020 West Virginia Artistree, which is adorned with ornaments celebrating Healthcare Workers, is currently on display in the Great Hall of the State Culture Center.
She also announced the winners of the First Lady Student Ornament Competition. There were 64 participants this year; 29 of the ornaments were submitted by classes and 35 of the ornaments were submitted by individual students. Each winning classroom will be awarded a $100 gift card for art supplies.
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Gov. Justice releases statement, WVDEP provides report on Optima Belle chemical facility explosion

On Wednesday, Gov. Justice provided an update on the explosion and chemical fire Tuesday night at the Chemours Chemical Plant in Belle. A two-mile radius shelter-in-place was ordered and then was lifted around 4:30 a.m. after the situation had been stabilized The Governor reported during Wednesday’s briefing that, according to emergency management officials, the likely cause of the incident was chlorinated dry bleach and methanol. The Governor also announced that one of the four people injured in the incident had died.

Recent air monitoring data collected by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Air Quality indicated no exceedances of the federal national ambient air quality standards during or in the hours following Tuesday’s explosion at the Optima Belle chemical facility in Belle, the agency announced Thursday. The fire at the Belle chemical facility was extinguished within hours of the incident and did not create ongoing emissions to the atmosphere.
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Gov. Justice releases statement on passing of Chuck Yeager
On Wednesday, the Governor paid his respects to the late Brig. Gen. Charles “Chuck” Yeager, who passed away Monday night. Born in Myra, West Virginia, Yeager was the first human to fly faster than the speed of sound in level flight, accomplishing the barrier-breaking feat in 1947. He also flew in dozens of combat missions in World War II. The Governor will be signing a proclamation to lower all United States and West Virginia flags to half-staff statewide in Gen. Yeager’s honor. The proclamation will be issued once the date of his services is announced.
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Gov. Justice issues statement after call with Viatris management team
On Friday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to discuss the announcement that Viatris, which is the new name for Mylan Pharmaceuticals, will close their Morgantown manufacturing facility by July 31, 2021.

“You’re talking about 1,500 employees that will lose their jobs, and that means 1,500 great West Virginia families are really going to be affected,” Gov. Justice said. “These are great, high-paying jobs and, absolutely, this is a shame beyond belief."

Gov. Justice had a phone call with the management team Friday afternoon where expressed his disappointment in the suddenness of the news and offered to help in any way possible. While the Viatris team did not offer to reverse their decision, they did commit to working with the Governor and the State to try to find a new operator for the facility to preserve as many of these jobs as possible.
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Gov. Justice, DHHR announce new child crisis line available
On Monday, Gov. Justice announced that HELP4WV, which offers a free 24/7 call, chat, and text line that provides immediate help for any West Virginian struggling with an addiction or mental health issue, has now made available a new Child Crisis Line. This helpline is available 24/7 to assist in finding the most appropriate and available treatment for an array of youth behavioral health needs from parenting support to immediate crisis response. Contact 1-844-HELP4WV to talk to a trained Helpline Specialist who can help you understand options and link you directly to treatment providers.
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Gov. Justice announces grand opening of new Corduroy Inn and Lodge at Snowshoe Resort
On Thursday, Gov. Justice announced the grand opening of the Corduroy Lodge, a newly constructed boutique hotel adjacent to the existing Corduroy Inn at Snowshoe Resort. The new expansion to the property includes a 48,000-square-foot hotel and conference center, including a banquet hall that can fit up to 300 people. Located on the top floor of the building, the banquet space offers 360-degree unobstructed views of the Allegheny Mountains.
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Gov. Justice issues statement on West Virginia Power
Gov. Justice issued the following statement Wednesday after learning that Major League Baseball has not yet extended an invitation to the West Virginia Power to remain a part of affiliated Minor League Baseball for the 2021 season:

“Obviously, there still remain financial obstacles between the owners of the West Virginia Power and the MLB. As recently as this afternoon, we were on the phone with Major League Baseball and we are continuing our steadfast work with the city, county, team owners, and the MLB. We have been assured by the MLB that this situation is going to get resolved and that professional baseball will be played in Charleston in 2021.”
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Gov. Justice orders flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of former West Virginia Delegate Samuel A. Love Jr.
Gov. Justice issued a proclamation, ordering all United States and West Virginia flags at the Capitol Complex and all state-owned facilities in Hancock County be displayed at half-staff, from dawn to dusk, Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in commemoration of the distinguished life and service of former West Virginia Delegate Samuel A. Love Jr. Love was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1983 and served until 1996.​
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DHHR awarded Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program Grant
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources was awarded $4,215,489 in grant funds by Gov. Justice to expand the West Virginia QLA Early Intervention Program. The program, which includes Quick Response Teams, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion and the Angel Initiative, will provide additional services to areas with the highest need: McDowell, Mercer, and Wyoming counties (as one region), and Berkeley, Cabell, Kanawha, Monongalia, Raleigh and Wood counties.
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Division of Highways completes planning study for Burnsville T-Beam Bridge
On Thursday, the West Virginia Division of Highways announced the completion of a planning study for the replacement of the Burnsville T-BeamBridge, located on County Route 5/10 in Braxton County. Secretary Byrd White and Deputy Secretary Jimmy Wriston, P.E. have approved the selection of the design consultant Michael Baker International. The consultant will begin development of the project contract documents and plans immediately. Construction will begin in late 2021.
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Martin Luther King Jr. State Holiday Commission announces 2021 Ecumenical Service keynote speaker and winners of 2020 Living the Dream Awards
On Thursday, the Martin Luther King Jr. State Holiday Commission announced the keynote speaker of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Ecumenical Service and winners of the 2020 Living the Dream Awards. The winners, nominated by members of the public, will be recognized during the Ecumenical Service on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. In compliance with public health measures during the pandemic, the Ecumenical Service will be virtual. The keynote speaker selected for this year’s commemoration is Dr. Chiquita Howard-Bostic. She is the Associate Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity and department chair of Sociology, Criminology, and Criminal Justice at Shepherd University (SU) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
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WVDEP lights Energy Tree outside Charleston Headquarters
The West Virginia Department of Energy's Energy Tree is ready for visitors to have a hands-on demonstration of the energy efficiency of LED lighting versus traditional incandescent. Using a crank generator, visitors can experience the difference in the effort it takes to light 100 incandescent Christmas lights and the more than 800 LED's that make up the energy tree. The Energy Tree will be on display at DEP Headquarters in Charleston through the end of the year.
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Gov. Justice reminds West Virginians to donate blood
This week, Gov. Justice once again encouraged all West Virginians to consider donating blood and plasma through the American Red Cross. In the Governor’s recent call with the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Vice President Mike Pence said that there is still a shortage of plasma and blood all across the nation. Those fully recovered from a verified COVID-19 diagnosis may have plasma in their blood containing COVID-19 antibodies that can attack this virus. This plasma is being evaluated as a possible treatment for currently ill COVID-19 patients.

For more information, visit redcross.org or call the local American Red Cross offices at 304-340-3650.
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Also this week:

National Influenza Vaccination Week December 6-12, 2020 (DHHR)

Gov. Justice, Secretary Warner to hold meeting of West Virginia's Presidential Electors on Monday, Dec. 14, at 2 p.m.
 
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Jordan Damron, jordan.l.damron@wv.gov

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State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E
Charleston, WV 25305

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304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

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