West Virginia Week in Review - July 25, 2020











Gov. Justice issues order permitting colleges and universities to reopen




During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Jim Justice announced that he has issued an executive order, formally allowing all of West Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities to reopen for the fall semester. The order does not mandate a specific reopening date, allowing each institution to reopen on their own preferred time frame.

The executive order announced Friday also formalizes the reopening date for all public and private Pre-K-12 schools as Sept. 8, 2020, as previously announced by the Governor. Additionally, the order clarifies restrictions for certain businesses across West Virginia.




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




Gov. Justice announced Thursday that he has issued an executive order​, extending the closure of all bars in Monongalia County for an additional 10 days. As of Thursday morning, July 23, more than 17.9 percent of West Virginia’s active cases were located in Monongalia County. Their 289 active cases are the highest total for any county statewide. 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 will still be permitted to pick up food or drinks to be taken away.

The new order also allows patrons 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. The West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration will soon issue further guidance regarding this limitation to these facilities. The new order extends the countywide bar closure, established under Executive Order 52-20, until Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, at 12:01 a.m.




Gov. Justice hosts West Virginia’s college and university presidents for virtual meeting to discuss reopening plans




Gov. Justice held a virtual meeting Tuesday with all 27 of West Virginia’s public and private college and university presidents to discuss reopening plans for the fall semester and how to ensure the safety of West Virginia’s students, teachers, faculty members, and communities amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. During Tuesday’s meeting, Gov. Justice renewed his calls for all students coming into West Virginia from out-of-state to be tested upon their return. The Governor also advocated for individuals on campuses to wear face coverings to the greatest extent possible and pledged to provide colleges and universities with any additional support they may need to facilitate a safe return. All colleges and universities have individual reopening plans that they are communicating to their campus communities. Each institution is unique, with diverse student bodies and infrastructure, so the plans vary from school to school. During the meeting, Gov. Justice expressed confidence in each institution’s ability to chart the correct course for their campus communities.




Gov. Justice hosts lawmakers for meeting on COVID-19 recovery




On Friday, Gov. Justice hosted a virtual meeting with the various West Virginia legislators on his COVID-19 advisory council to discuss the distribution of pandemic-related relief funding.

“We had a really productive meeting,” Gov. Justice said. “We spent the last couple hours with a lot of good people, going through a lot of good ideas and questions.

“We talked about the distribution of our CARES Act dollars, how we put our plan together, how it’s all flowing, and how we’re modifying it and making it better with input from lots of different people,” Gov. Justice continued.

The Governor went on to say that he is consulting with these lawmakers from all across the state, to figure out the best ways to ensure that every West Virginian who qualifies to receive funding is able to get their share as quickly as possible.

“We don’t want to leave any stone unturned and we don’t want to leave money on the table,” Gov. Justice said. “We absolutely want to take advantage of every dollar we can take advantage of.”




Gov. Justice provides more than $4.1 million to help volunteer firefighters




During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that he and his team have found a way to provide $10,000 in grant funding directly to each of the 419 volunteer fire departments across West Virginia. In total, the Governor’s initiative will provide $4.19 million to help volunteer firefighters in all corners of the Mountain State.




Gov. Justice reports modest improvement in case numbers




On Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported a modest improvement in West Virginia’s COVID-19 case numbers in recent days, announcing that out of 2,838 tests taken on Tuesday, only 30 were positive; a rate of less than 1.06 percent.

“The number of active cases in Mon County has dropped from 394 to 339 and that’s also very good,” Gov. Justice said. “Our numbers, for the past couple of days, have been moving back in the direction that we want them to move.

Gov. Justice pointed out that Wednesday marked two weeks and two days since he established his statewide indoor face covering requirement. The Governor also reported that West Virginia’s Rt value – an indicator of how much COVID-19 is spreading – which had been the highest among all 50 states, had improved to 19th highest nationwide. However, Gov. Justice also pointed out that COVID-19-related hospitalizations had increased slightly since his previous briefing on Monday.




Gov. Justice reports millions of meals provided to West Virginia students




On Friday, Gov. Justice gave another update on efforts by the West Virginia Department of Education, county boards of education, and additional community partners to provide meals to children through the variety of feeding programs across the state.

“The West Virginia Department of Education received more than $36 million in CARES Act funding to be used for the period between March and September 2020,” Gov. Justice said. “This funding was sent directly to the WVDE from the USDA, specifically for meal claims reimbursement to counties.

“As of July, the West Virginia Department of Education has spent more than $40.5 million in meal reimbursements and over 11.5 million meals were served during the COVID-19 school closure,” Gov. Justice continued. “This summer, approximately 6.6 million meals will be served through the Summer Food Service Program through 353 feeding sites.”

In June 2020 alone, the WVDE reimbursed summer sponsors $7.8 million in federal reimbursement money. This is in comparison to $1.75 million in federal reimbursement for the entirety of the 2019 Summer Food Service Program.




Gov. Justice reminded West Virginians that an interactive free-feeding location map, designed to help connect citizens in need to food resources across the state, is available online. If food distribution locations aren't available in some communities, individuals are encouraged to call 211 for further assistance.




Gov. Justice reports active church outbreaks in 8 counties




During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that one new church-related outbreak of COVID-19 has been identified at a place of worship in Mason County, meaning there are now active church outbreaks in a total of eight counties across West Virginia. Other counties where such outbreaks have been identified include Boone, Grant, Logan, Kanawha, Raleigh, Taylor, and Wood counties. As of Friday, these outbreaks account for about 125 total cases combined.

“I, again, want to strongly encourage all West Virginians, especially when in church settings, to follow the guidelines: use every other pew, maintain social distancing, and please wear face coverings,” Gov. Justice said. “A lot of the attendance at our churches are those that are elderly and at higher risk, so I am cautioning everyone to strictly follow our guidelines.”




Gov. Justice reports state park reservations up 227 percent




On Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that in June 2020, compared to June 2019, West Virginia saw a 227 percent increase in online reservations for stays at West Virginia State Parks among in-state residents. Revenue from West Virginia residents also increased by 187 percent. In May, as a show of appreciation for the resiliency and support of West Virginians during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia State Parks would offer a historic discount on lodging for all West Virginia residents. The offer, called the WVSTRONG Discount, is providing West Virginians with a 30 percent discount on lodging at all State Parks for stays between June 1 through August 31.




Gov. Justice announces additional free COVID-19 testing locations




Gov. Justice updated the schedule of upcoming free community COVID-19 testing events taking place over the next two weeks at various dates and times in Brooke, Gilmer, Logan, and Marion 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.




WV Air National Guard Airmen explain the process of testing for COVID-19




COVID-19 testing is a critical component of identifying the spread of the virus and helping to contain it. The West Virginia National Guard has been instrumental in conducting this testing throughout the state and in an effort to ensure they can continue this mission, they are training 100 of their medics to administer COVID-19 tests. To date, the WVNG has administered 30,000+ COVID-19 tests.




Justice appoints Patrice Harris, reappoints two others to WVU Board of Governors




On Friday, Gov. Justice announced the appointment of Dr. Patrice Harris to the West Virginia University Board of Governors. Also, current members Tom Jones and Taunja Willis Miller have been reappointed by the governor to the board. A native of Bluefield, Harris received her undergraduate and medical degrees WVU in addition to a master’s degree in counseling. She also completed a psychiatry residency and child psychiatry fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine. Harris has served as a WVU Foundation Board of Directors member and is a 2007 inductee to the WVU Academy of Distinguished Alumni.




First Lady Cathy Justice welcomes Upshur County to Communities In Schools program




On Wednesday, First Lady Cathy Justice welcomed Upshur County Schools to the state's Communities In Schools program for the 2020-2021 school year. CIS is currently in 79 schools in 15 counties in West Virginia. They impact more than 27,000 students and the program is continuing to grow. Gov. Justice and the First Lady have championed the expansion of the program after starting with just three counties in 2018.




Gov. Justice, WVNG welcome home soldiers returning from overseas




The West Virginia National Guard and Gov. Justice welcomed home 33 soldiers from the West Virginia National Guard, who returned to the Mountain State Friday after spending nearly a year abroad.

“I’ve said over and over, we owe all of the goodness that we have in life to our heroes in uniform,” Gov. Justice said. “So, absolutely, we celebrate the return of these brave men and women today.”

Over the next two months, approximately 600 WVNG soldiers are scheduled to return home from various deployments around the world.




Gov. Justice orders U.S. and State flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of U.S. Rep. John Lewis




As a mark of respect for the memory and longstanding public service of Representative John Lewis, of Georgia, and in accordance with President Donald J. Trump’s proclamation, Gov. Jim Justice issued a proclamation, ordering that all United States and West Virginia flags on all State-owned facilities be displayed at half-staff Saturday, July 18, 2020.




WVDE prepares educators for in-person, remote, and blended learning




As the education community prepares for the 2020-2021 school year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) is offering a professional learning opportunity to assist county and school professional staff, including teachers, administrators, counselors, school psychologists, academic coaches, county administrators and instructional leaders in engaging students in meaningful learning activities, no matter how instruction is delivered. The WVDE Instructional Support Professional Learning Forum, is a virtual training, August 3 through August 7, 2020, featuring a series of nearly 100 online professional learning sessions. The three-day forum focuses on a variety of topics designed to help county and school personnel prepare for the upcoming school year, whether that be through in-person, remote, or blended learning. Sessions range from teaching reading comprehension remotely, to virtual speech-language evaluation training, to remote learning with science labs and addressing the needs of vulnerable populations, including special needs students. The forum also includes a strand for Technical and Adult Education, with several sessions on topics of interest to Career Technical Education and Advanced Career Education instructors. All sessions will be recorded and made available to registrants after the forum.




Highways employees explain the process of paving a road




On Wednesday, the West Virginia Division of Highways released a video spotlighting employees paving roadways across our state. The crew in the video was paving Route 50 in Ritchie County. District 3 Maintenance Engineer Jared Evans explains that to pave a road the first step is to prep it by sweeping the road, ditching the sides, and making sure the drainage is in good shape.




WVDOH highlights progress on Corridor H project from Kerens to US 219 Connector




The West Virginia Division of Highways is highlighting the recent progress made on the Corridor H project from Kerens to the US 219 Connector. Crews have been working on excavating and constructing three bridges in this stretch of the project.




WVDNR continues citizen science project to track fireflies in West Virginia




In an effort to understand declining firefly populations, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is inviting the public to participate in a citizen science project to track lightning bug sightings in the Mountain State. West Virginia has up to 40 species of fireflies that may have declined in number due to habitat loss, pesticide use and other environmental causes such as light pollution, but can still be seen in fields and forests after sunset during the summer. You can be part of the DNR’s firefly conservation efforts and participate in the survey by going outside, looking for fireflies, and reporting the location of your sightings at www.wvdnr.gov/fireflies. You can also download the Survey123 app on the Apple and Google Play stores.




West Virginia launches ATLAS™ website to help navigate addiction treatment




The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources today announced the launch of ATLAS™ (Addiction Treatment Locator, Assessment, and Standards Platform), the first resource of its kind to help those seeking addiction treatment find high-quality and appropriate care. The ATLAS website provides transparent data on the use of evidence-based medical practices and patient experiences at addiction treatment facilities. ATLAS allows users to compare treatment facilities side-by-side, or filter by selected criteria, such as facility location, program needs, or insurance carrier. Patients and their loved ones will also be able to leave feedback on treatment facilities by responding to validated survey questions similar to those used in other areas of healthcare. West Virginia is one of six states that have partnered with Shatterproof, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reversing the addiction crisis in America, to develop and launch ATLAS.




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:

WVSFMO participates in memorial procession for Charleston Firefighter

WVDE shares virtual school options available for families

WVDEP Youth Environmental Program challenges public to play Earth BINGO

WVDEP's Environment Matters spotlights The Wild Ramp in Huntington



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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