West Virginia Week in Review - July 18, 2020

7/18/2020

 

 

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Gov. Justice reduces social gathering limit; closes fairs, festivals, and concerts statewide due to rise in COVID-19 cases

 

 

 

With the daily number of new COVID-19 cases continuing to climb across West Virginia, Gov. Justice announced Monday that he has issued an executive order reducing the statewide social gathering limit from 100 to 25 individuals.

The 25-person limitation applies only to purely social gatherings. It does not apply to any activity, business, or entity that has been deemed essential, such as religious services, weddings, or group meetings, conferences, or other special events held for essential businesses and operations, as defined by Executive Order 9-20as amended. Such meetings, conferences, or other special events will need to plan for social distancing between attendees based on CDC recommendations.

Additionally, on Monday, Gov. Justice announced that the same executive order also closes all fairs, festivals, and similar events, and prohibits both indoor and outdoor concerts statewide.

This order went into effect Tuesday, July 14.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice makes applications available for West Virginia CARES Act Small Business Grant Program

 

 

 

Following his briefing Wednesday, Gov. Justice made applications available online for small businesses seeking to receive funding through the Governor’s West Virginia CARES Act Small Business Grant Program. The initiative will provide $150 million of West Virginia’s CARES Act funding to qualifying businesses across the state. Any West Virginia-based small business, in existence on February 29, 2020, with 1-35 employees, will be able to apply for up to $5,000 in grant funding. Businesses planning to apply must first register as a vendor with the State. Guidelines for the grants and instructions on how to apply are available at Grants.wv.gov.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice orders bars closed in Monongalia County for 10 days

 

 

 

On Monday, Gov. Justice announced that he has issued another executive order​, closing all bars in Monongalia County for 10 days, after seeing a significant spike in positive cases in the area in recent days.

“This is a real hotspot,” Gov. Justice said. “Their rise in active cases and the number of community-based outbreaks is extremely concerning. With their current active cases at 340, we must act right now to stop this from getting any worse.

“Students are coming back to school and a huge threat is the students congregating at the bars,” Gov. Justice continued. “During that 10-day period, I am very hopeful that what’s going to happen is that we’re going to begin to see a correction in the numbers.”

 

 

 

Gov. Justice pointed out that, according to recent information from the Texas Medical Association, going to bars ranks among the riskiest activities possible when it comes to furthering the spread of COVID-19. Monongalia County restaurants that also include bars will have their bars closed, but will be permitted to continue restaurant service, including the sale of alcoholic beverages to dine-in customers. This order went into effect on Tuesday, July 14.

 

 

 

West Virginia again sets national example in COVID-19 response

 

 

 

On Wednesday, Gov. Justice pointed out that one of the nation’s leading governmental health agencies has once again followed West Virginia’s lead in its COVID-19 response.

“When we saw our numbers really start to spike, we made it mandatory for everybody in our state to wear a face covering,” Gov. Justice said. “Yesterday, the CDC followed our lead and is now officially calling for all Americans to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Other states like Ohio and Kentucky have followed suit.

“This has happened over and over in West Virginia,” Gov. Justice continued. “We were the first state in the nation to test every resident and employee at all of our nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Once again, the CDC followed us there too and asked all states to do the same.”

 

 

 

Gov. Justice again urges churchgoers to follow safety guidelines

 

 

 

On Friday, Gov. Justice announced that several new church-related outbreaks of COVID-19 have been identified at places of worship in Boone, Kanawha, Raleigh, and Taylor counties. The Governor urged all West Virginians in church settings to follow the State’s safety guidelines, including using every other pew, maintaining social distancing, and wearing face coverings.

And on Monday after receiving reports of large church gatherings in various places across the state last weekend, Gov. Justice again urged all West Virginians to wear face coverings and properly social distance from one another to help prevent further spread of COVID-19.

“It is absolutely mandatory that you wear a mask to church and it is only the smart thing to do,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re going the wrong way here. We’ve got to get this thing turned around and going the way we want it to go.

“I’m a Christian and I’m really proud of it,” Gov. Justice continued. “I truly understand the importance of church and I understand that it is the highest priority in our lives and I get it. But then I see a photo of one of our church settings and there’s no one anywhere in the congregation that’s got a mask on. There’s no pews in-between people. We’re just asking for it."

 

 

 

Gov. Justice, Coronavirus Czar address COVID-19 misconceptions

 

 

 

During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice and West Virginia Coronavirus Czar, Dr. Clay Marsh, took time to discuss common misconceptions about the dangers associated with COVID-19, particularly when it comes to its fatality rate.

“It’s really, really important that we get the most accurate data,” Gov. Justice said. “I’ve had people call me and claim, incorrectly, that 99.93 percent of the people who get this disease don’t die.

“That is a total error,” Gov. Justice said.

Dr. Marsh elaborated that the worldwide mortality rate associated with COVID-19 is approximately 4 percent.

“Also, I’m getting people that are incorrectly saying that COVID-19 is just like the flu,” Gov. Justice said.

“That is untrue,” Dr. Marsh said. “The flu has a mortality rate, at the most, of 0.1 percent.

“With COVID-19, the long-term manifestations that we’re seeing with brain functioning and other problems, even from people who get better, are substantial,” Dr. Marsh continued. “It’s much, much worse than the flu.”

“West Virginia, you’ve got to understand that you are among the oldest states, the most chronically ill, and you’re located right in the middle of several hotspots across the region,” Gov. Justice said. “I’ve asked you to wear a mask. I don’t like the masks. But I’m telling you they’re the only thing we have right now to protect us.”

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces July income tax collections far exceeding estimates

 

 

 

On Friday, Gov. Justice announced that so far in Fiscal Year 2021, which began on July 1, 2020, personal income tax collections of $192.6 million were more than $51.1 million above estimates. Additionally, corporate net income tax collections came in more than $50.1 million ahead of estimates. The filing deadline was extended from the traditional date of April 15, 2020, by three months to July 15, 2020, in response to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and to align with the federal government’s income tax filing extension to the same date.

Gov. Justice noted that the early boost for FY2021 comes just a few weeks after general revenue collections for FY2020 finished at a surplus, outpacing budget estimates that were made based on the record-setting revenue growth seen in West Virginia during FY2019, all without collecting income tax for the year.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces additional free COVID-19 testing sites

 

 

 

Additional free community COVID-19 testing continued this week at various dates and times in Barbour, Berkeley, Harrison, Mercer, and Monongalia 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.

Testing is available TODAY, Saturday, July 18, at the following locations:

Berkeley County
Saturday, July 18
7 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Patriot Antique Center and Flea Market: 615 King Street, Martinsburg, WV

Jefferson County
Saturday, July 18
7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Ranson Civic Center: 432 W. 2nd Avenue, Ranson, WV

Monongalia County
Saturday, July 18
8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
WVU Coliseum: 3450 Monongahela Boulevard, Morgantown, WV

 

 

 

More than 13 million meals provided to West Virginia children since March

 

 

 

On Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that from March through July 13, more than 13.5 million meals have been provided to West Virginia children through the variety of feeding programs underway across the state. Department of Education leaders anticipate that a total of more than 17 million meals will be provided to children by the end of the summer through the State’s feeding programs.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces drop in unemployment continues

 

 

 

Gov. Justice has announced that West Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped more than two percentage points in June to 10.4 percent.

“The number of unemployed state residents decreased by 21,400 people,” Gov. Justice said. “And we’re doing slightly better than the national unemployment rate of 11.1 percent in June."

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces more than $44 million awarded in CARES Act grant funding

 

 

 

On Friday, Gov. Justice provided an update on cities and counties throughout West Virginia applying for funds through the federal CARES Act, reporting that more than $44.5 million has now been awarded all across the state. A new web portal is now available for city and county government officials to apply for this grant funding, at grants.wv.gov. Interested parties can also call the helpline: 1-833-94-GRANT. Each of the recipients of CARES Act funding, along with grant amounts, are now available to view through the COVID-19 transparency web portal provided by West Virginia State Auditor’s Office.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces $2.1 million in Child Advocacy Center grant awards for 2020

 

 

 

Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday that he has awarded $2,118,677 in Child Advocacy Center grant program funds to 22 projects. These funds are awarded to local nonprofit Child Advocacy Centers throughout the state to address the growing problem of child abuse and neglect. Gov. Justice's awards are focused on a multidisciplinary response to investigation, treatment, and prosecution of child abuse cases by providing such services as advocacy, education, forensic interviews, evaluations, and referrals. The West Virginia Legislature reappropriated funding to implement a system of child advocacy centers throughout the state. This funding is intended to provide grant relief to be passed through the Justice and Community Services section of the West Virginia Division of Administrative Services to those child advocacy centers in need of supplemental financial assistance.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice offers condolences following death of former state legislator

 

 

 

Gov. Justice took time out of his briefing Friday to offer his condolences and prayers following the death of former West Virginia Senator and Delegate Shirley Love. Love, who was 87 years old, represented the Oak Hill area of Fayette County in the West Virginia Legislature as a Senator from 1994-2008 and later as a member of the House of Delegates from 2016-2018. His death was not COVID-19-related.

 

 

 

Gov. Jim Justice issued a proclamation, ordering all United States and West Virginia flags at the Capitol Complex and all state-owned facilities in Fayette County be displayed at half-staff, from dawn to dusk on Monday, July 20, 2020, in commemoration of Love. He was also well-known as a television and radio broadcaster in West Virginia for more than 40 years.

 

 

 

School Clothing Allowance Application Period Delayed Due to COVID-19

 

 

 

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bureau for Children and Families, has delayed the application period for the School Clothing Allowance (SCA) program due to COVID-19. The program will be moving to an electronic format to allow SCA recipients to make online purchases to reduce health risks. Previously, purchases were limited to in-store transactions. SCA provides funds for eligible West Virginia children to purchase clothing and shoes for back to school. Funds may also be used for the purchase of piece goods to sew clothing. Revised dates for the SCA application period as well as new guidance related to online shopping will be announced in the coming weeks. In 2019, more than 42,000 West Virginia families received a school clothing allowance.

 

 

 

Five finalists announced for 2021 West Virginia Teacher of the Year

 

 

 

The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) has selected five educators as finalists for the prestigious West Virginia Teacher of the Year Award. All finalists serve their counties as the 2020 County Teacher of the Year and include elementary, middle, high school, and career technical education educators from across the state. This year’s finalists are Erin Anderson, Tennerton Elementary School, Upshur County; Michael Knepper, Mussleman High School, Berkeley County; Jessica Markwood, Moorefield High School, Hardy County; Meghan Salter, Martha Elementary School, Cabell County; and Lisa Smith, Blennerhassett Elementary School, Wood County. The announcement was made during the July meeting of the West Virginia Board of Education.

 

 

 

2020 Great Kanawha River Cleanup canceled due to COVID-19

 

 

 

The 31st annual Great Kanawha River Cleanup, sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s (WVDEP) Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan (REAP), has been canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The event, which normally takes place the first Saturday in September, helps clean up sites along the Kanawha River such as Winfield Beach, the South Charleston boat ramp, and Kanawha Falls at Glen Ferris. Last year’s cleanup saw 133 volunteers spend a total of 290 hours to help remove 3.5 tons of litter and 361 tires from six sites along the Kanawha River and its tributaries. The event is expected to resume in 2021.

 

 

 

WVDACH accepting applications for West Virginia Emerging Artists Juried Exhibition

 

 

 

The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History is currently accepting submissions for the 2020 West Virginia Emerging Artists Juried Exhibition through July 31, 2020. The exhibit will open Sept. 20 at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. Eligible artists may submit two pieces for the exhibit jurying in painting, print/drawing, mixed media, craft/wall hangings, photography, digital art, and sculpture. The pieces that are entered must have been created between 2018 and 2020. Digital images, not original pieces, are submitted for the jurying process. To be eligible to enter the exhibition, artists must be 18 years of age or older and maintain a permanent domicile in West Virginia. Exceptions to this requirement are made for students and military personnel who have West Virginia resident status and a home address in the state. The Department will present three awards for the exhibition. The Best of Show/Purchase Award will by $1,000. Second place will receive $500 and third place will receive $250.

 

 

 

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:

Gov. Justice issues executive order extending the deadline for Municipal Home Rule Program payments

WVDEP extending comment period on restoration plan for Upper Guyandotte River Watershed

WVDNR highlights construction progress at new Wildlife Education Center

WVDNR details geese banding project done in summer months

 

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Contact Information

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

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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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304.558.3588

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