West Virginia Week in Review - July 4, 2020

7/4/2020

 

 

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Gov. Justice announces historic revenue surplus despite effects of COVID-19

 

 

 

On Wednesday, Gov. Jim Justice announced that, despite the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the economy, he and his administration have delivered another historic revenue surplus in West Virginia for Fiscal Year 2020.

“That, in itself, may be the biggest accomplishment that we’ve ever pulled off,” Gov. Justice said. “For us to run across the finish line with a surplus, in the year of the God-awfullest pandemic of our lifetimes, it’s an absolute miracle.”

After setting the all-time state record for revenue growth in the previous fiscal year, those surpluses were built into initial budget estimates for FY2020.

“We were tracking right along with our best numbers ever and then, all of a sudden, this pandemic hit,” Gov. Justice said. “By April, I was told by our revenue experts that we were going to be $525 million short.

“Of course, I never really fell into that because I knew that West Virginia really never shut down completely,” Gov. Justice continued. “All of the sudden, the numbers started looking a little bit better and better.”

Working alongside state revenue experts to utilize money from reserve accounts, and with the federal government’s move to raise the reimbursement rate on Medicaid, Gov. Justice and his administration were able to turn a shortfall of $255.8 million into another historic surplus for West Virginia, with the reserve funds used being replenished.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice sends Fourth of July greetings to West Virginians

 

 

 

Today, Gov. Jim Justice released a video message wishing a Happy Independence Day to all West Virginians.

“Cathy and I want to wish you an absolutely terrific Fourth. We hope that you’re going to go out and enjoy this beautiful state in some way or another. Please visit one of our State Parks and enjoy time with your family.
 
What an incredible holiday this is – our nation’s birthday. The day that so many gave so much so that we could have what we have right here in this incredible country – our freedom."

Earlier in the week, Gov. Justice also warned West Virginians against participating in risky behavior during their holiday celebrations.

The Governor urged residents to wear a mask whenever in groups and warned high-risk individuals to avoid large crowds as much as possible. Gov. Justice is also recommending that those traveling out-of-state self-monitor and get tested upon returning to West Virginia. 

 

 

 

Gov. Justice discusses potential need for mask requirement

 

 

 

With a resurgence of COVID-19 cases being seen in other states across the country in recent days, Gov. Justice urged all West Virginians on Thursday to remain on high alert and to be prepared for additional safety measures to be put in place to safeguard residents.

“If, God forbid, this virus comes back at us, we need to be able to stop it, and one of the ways we can stop it is by wearing masks,” Gov. Justice continued. “And so, I want everyone to know that I am very, very seriously considering that, at the beginning of next week, we may very well have to go to mandatory masks inside buildings, other than your homes, where you are not able to social distance."

Gov. Justice added that he will consult with state health experts and members of his administration, looking at additional case numbers over the weekend before making a final decision. The Governor urged residents to wear a mask whenever in groups and warned high-risk individuals to avoid large crowds as much as possible. Gov. Justice is also recommending that those traveling out-of-state self-monitor and get tested upon returning to West Virginia.

 

 

 

DHHR completes investigation into active COVID-19 case discrepancy

 

 

 

An investigation, ordered by Gov. Justice last week after the number of active COVID-19 cases in Randolph County were found to be much lower than shown on the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ COVID-19 dashboard, has found that the DHHR electronic case surveillance system was not updated with recovered case data from the local health departments and that DHHR did not follow up with local health departments to routinely verify recovered cases of COVID-19.

Recovered cases are determined by the local health departments as they follow individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The error in the numbers of recovered individuals on the COVID-19 dashboard was discovered by the West Virginia National Guard which contacted the Randolph County Health Department to verify the numbers. These cases, which had not been entered into the electronic case surveillance system as recovered, were cases from the Huttonsville Correctional Facility outbreak several weeks ago.

This week, DHHR’s Office of Epidemiology and Prevention Services and the West Virginia National Guard contacted each local health department to verify the numbers and have compared them to those in the electronic case surveillance system which is updated to the COVID-19 dashboard.

 

 

 

Week 10 of West Virginia Strong – The Comeback now underway

 

 

 

Gov. Justice reminded West Virginians that another round of reopenings officially went into effect Wednesday as part of the Governor’s West Virginia Strong – The Comeback plan to restart the state’s economy.

Provided that all safety guidelines are being properly followed, approved activity reopenings on Wednesday, July 1, include:

  • Fairs, festivals, amusement parks, and rides
  • Outdoor open-air concerts​

Click here to view safety guidelines

 

 

 

Free testing opportunities announced in Marshall, Mercer, Monongalia, Preston, and Wayne counties

 

 

 

 

 

As part of Gov. Justice’s initiative to increase COVID-19 testing opportunities, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources announced locations for testing on July 10 and 11, 2020. Free COVID-19 testing will be held in Marshall, Mercer, Monongalia, Preston, and Wayne counties with support from local health departments and state and community partners at the following times and locations.
 
Marshall County
July 10, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
McMechen City Hall
325 Logan Street
McMechen, WV
 
July 11, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Marshall County Health Department
513 6th Street
Moundsville, WV
 
Mercer County
July 11, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Mercer County Health Department
978 Blue Prince Road
Bluefield, WV
 
Monongalia County
July 10, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Morgantown Farmer’s Market (Downtown)        
400 Spruce Street
Morgantown, WV
                                                                                                           
July 11, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
661 Green Bag Road
Morgantown, WV
 
Preston County
July 10 and 11, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Kingwood Elementary School  
207 S. Price Street
Kingwood, WV
 
Wayne County
July 10, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 
Dunlow Community Center
1475 Left Fork Dunlow Bypass Road
Dunlow, WV
 
July 11, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 
Wayne Elementary School
80 McGinnis Drive
Wayne, WV
 
Attendees should bring identification, such as a driver’s license or proof of address, to help in returning test results. Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. The testing is free and available to all residents in selected counties, including asymptomatic individuals.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice participates in call with White House, Vice President Mike Pence

 

 

 

On Monday, Gov. Justice participated in yet another conference call with Vice President Mike Pence, members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and other governors across the country to discuss the latest developments in nationwide efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“They were talking about a secondary-type outbreak that’s going on in the country,” Gov. Justice said. “This outbreak, now, is attacking our younger people as well. A percentage of the younger people that didn’t seem to have a problem with this before now have a problem from it. If you’re under the age of 50 and get this, it can be a problem. In most situations, it is not a problem. But, in some situations that are popping up, some people are getting really sick. 

“They also told us that the drug, remdesivir, there are now large supplies of the drug for the United States from Gilead,” Gov. Justice continued. “Through this September, they will be pumping more and more of that drug to the states to treat people if there happened to be an outbreak.”

The Governor reported that this will allow American hospitals to purchase the drug in amounts allocated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and state health departments. The Trump Administration explained that they plan to allocate this drug in the same way they did before, which means the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources will be distributing it to local hospitals across the state.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces $1 billion in unemployment benefits now distributed

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announced Wednesday that WorkForce West Virginia has now surpassed $1 billion in unemployment benefits distributed to residents who have applied for assistance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice updates cities and counties grant funding through CARES Act

 

 

 

On Thursday, Gov. Justice provided an update on cities and counties throughout West Virginia applying for funds through the federal CARES Act, reporting that more than $28 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.

 

 

 

Governor applauds grand opening of revamped Fairmont Medical Center

 

 

 

Gov. Justice took time out of Wednesday's briefing to applaud WVU Medicine for their grand opening Tuesday of the revamped Fairmont Medical Center in Marion County. The same facility used to be known as Fairmont Regional Medical Center, or FRMC. Back in February, FRMC announced that they were going to close within 60 days.

At an event in March, Gov. Justice and officials with WVU announced that FRMC would continue operating under the WVU umbrella and that a new, state-of-the-art, full-service 100-bed facility would be constructed during the next 18-24 months, preserving hundreds of jobs in the region.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice reports more than nine percent of West Virginians have now been tested

 

 

 

During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that more than nine percent of the population of West Virginia has now been tested for COVID-19 – a higher rate than all of the states bordering West Virginia and a rate that’s higher than the national average.

 

 

 

Employees at state's veterans nursing homes tested

 

 

 

On Monday, Gov. Justice announced that all staff members at West Virginia’s two state veterans homes – the West Virginia Veterans Home in Barboursville and the West Virginia Veterans Nursing Facility in Clarksburg – had been tested for COVID-19. All of the test results came back negative.

“We are continuing the commitment to protect our veterans in this state all the time,” Gov. Justice said. “Everything we have, as far as our freedoms, as far as our liberties in West Virginia and all across this great country, we owe to our veterans and all of our active military. So we’re going to continue to try to look after them as best as we possibly can.”

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces application process for small business recovery grants coming soon

 

 

 

After announcing his plan to use $150 million of West Virginia’s share of federal CARES Act funding to award 15,000 of West Virginia’s small businesses $10,000 each to help recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Justice provided a reminder Monday that the application process for these small business grants will soon be announced. Any small business in West Virginia that was in existence as of February 29, 2020, that has anywhere from 5-35 employees will be able to apply for this funding. The small business grants are just one portion of the Governor’s overall proposal to award $1.25 billion in federal funding through the CARES Act to benefit all West Virginians. Another $970 million in other grants have also been received in West Virginia.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice updates COVID-19 case growth related to Myrtle Beach travel

 

 

 

Once again on Thursday, Gov. Justice discussed the recent surge in COVID-19 cases being seen at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, again cautioning residents who are considering traveling to the popular vacation destination that there are now cases in 23 West Virginia counties, with at least 115 cases that are tied to residents traveling to the Myrtle Beach area.

 

 

 

Eighty cadets graduate from Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy despite COVID-19 pandemic

 

 

 

The West Virginia National Guard’s Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy (MCA) recently graduated 80 cadets as a part of Class 54, despite the challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Class 54 began with a total of 197 enrolled cadets. Forty-one percent, or 33 of the 80 cadets who successfully completed the program, are graduating from the MCA with a high school diploma. Of those graduating, 59 percent (47 cadets) plan to join the workforce, 16 percent (13 cadets) plan to join the military, 16 percent (13 cadets) plan to attend a vocational/technical program and 9 percent (7 cadets) plan to go onto a four-year college program. In March, cadets were sent home from their campus at Camp Dawson out of an abundance of caution due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the remaining time before the end of course exams, staff and faculty at MCA conducted virtual training to ensure students were on track to meet the requirements for graduation. Class 54 represents 31 different counties throughout the Mountain State, with Kanawha County having the highest enrollment for the course with 18 cadets.

 

 

 

‘Safety First on the Fourth’ is the goal for the WV State Fire Marshal

 

 

 

Celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks is a tradition about as old as the nation itself, and one that West Virginians have enthusiastically embraced. But that’s no excuse to take a holiday from common sense and safety. Now that consumer fireworks are legal here – and widely available at brick-and-mortar stores as well as seasonal tents – the W.Va. State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds residents of these tips and more from the National Council on Fireworks Safety:

• Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
• Obey local laws.
• Parents should not allow young children to handle or use fireworks.
• Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.

All retailers pay a firework safety fee toward their licenses, the proceeds of which benefit volunteer fire departments and veterans. West Virginia’s local municipalities can also implement their own laws and restrictions pertaining to the use of consumer firework. Please check first to see if your city or town has any of these restrictions before lighting or using fireworks.

 

 

 

West Virginians urged to participate in the 2020 Census

 

 

 

Once more, Gov. Justice is asking 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.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice praises USMCA agreement

 

 

 

 

 

Consumer spending in West Virginia returns to pre-pandemic levels

 

 

 

On Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that a state-by-state analysis by the Harvard-based research group Opportunity Insights found that overall consumer spending in West Virginia returned to pre-pandemic levels in June.

The research shows that West Virginia is among six states, including Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, and Tennessee, where consumer spending is now higher than it was at the start of 2020.

 

 

 

Martinsburg DMV regional office now offering driver's license skills tests by appointment

 

 

 

The West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles announced Monday that appointments may now be made for customers needing to take their driver's license skills test at the Martinsburg DMV Regional Office. Customers may make an appointment from the appointment scheduler online at go.wv.gov/dmvappointment or by phone at 304-558-3938 for appointment dates. Martinsburg joins a list of 14 other offices that offer driver's license skills test appointments across the state: Beckley, Charles Town / Kearneysville, Elkins, Fairmont, Flatwoods, Huntington, Kanawha City / Charleston, Logan, Martinsburg, Morgantown, Moundsville, Parkersburg, Princeton, Romney, and Summersville.

 

 

 

D'Antoni announces retirement from Department of Education

 

 

 

After a lifetime of service to West Virginia students, including a decade of leadership with the West Virginia Department of Education, Dr. Kathy D’Antoni announced Wednesday her retirement from her position as Associate State Superintendent over the Division of Technical and Adult Education. Dr. D’Antoni has worked tirelessly to advocate for all students, and under her leadership, West Virginia’s career technical education programs have become a national model of success. Her retirement is effective July 3, 2020.

 

 

 

West Virginia State Museum to reopen Tuesday, July 7

 

 

 

The West Virginia State Museum, located in the Culture Center, will reopen its doors to visitors on Tuesday, July 7. The museum will operate under normal business hours, Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The maximum occupancy allowed in the state museum will be limited to 52 people. Visitors will be asked to follow social distancing guidelines at all times. Museum staff will wear face coverings and will follow special cleaning guidelines in accordance with best practices from the WV DHHR and CDC. All visitors to the museum are encouraged to wear a face covering and will have their temperature taken upon entry. All visitors will also be asked to fill out the West Virginia State Visitor Covid-19 Screening Form. The West Virginia State Museum Gift Shop also will open on July 7 and resume normal business hours. The shop is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

 

 

 

Also this week:

HEALTH: Medical cannabis laboratory permit applications to reopen

FIRE MARSHAL: New documentary highlights female firefighters

NATIONAL GUARD: WVNG highlights COVID-19 response for June

HOMELAND SECURITY: Beacon of Hope award recipients include DHS specialist

DMV: Commissioner talks about reopening guidelines in regional offices

 

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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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