West Virginia Week in Review - June 13, 2020: COVID-19 Update

6/13/2020

 

 

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COVID-19 Response Weekly Update
June 6 – June 12

 

 

 

 

Week 7 of the Gov. Justice reopening plan – West Virginia Strong – The Comeback – is now underway and announcements regarding future reopenings have been made. Guidance documents for businesses and other entities permitted to reopen can also be found on The Comeback webpage.

The Governor's Safer At Home order remains in effect.

Additional information about COVID-19 and what West Virginia is doing to combat the virus can be found on Coronavirus.wv.gov.

 

 

Friday, June 12: Gov. Justice announces testing of all prisons and jails complete; $2.6 million in CARES Act funding now out to cities and counties

 

 

 

FULL TESTING OF WEST VIRGINIA CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES COMPLETED
On Friday, Gov. Justice announced that all inmates and employees at each of the State’s correctional facilities have now been tested for COVID-19.

“In eight days, we have tested more than 10,000 inmates and 4,000 employees,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re still waiting on some additional results coming in, but the overwhelming results are negative.” 

Results as of Friday afternoon showed there were a total of nine active COVID-19 cases among inmates and residents at four jails and two prisons across West Virginia and five active COVID-19 cases among corrections employees and contract staff.

Last month, Gov. Justice ordered that all inmates and employees within the State’s network of correctional facilities be tested for COVID-19, following an influx of cases at Huttonsville Correctional Center and Jail in Randolph County.

 

 

 

$2.6 MILLION IN GRANT FUNDING DISTRIBUTED TO CITIES AND COUNTIES
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice provided an update on cities and counties throughout West Virginia applying for funds through the federal CARES Act, reporting that $2.6 million has now been distributed all across the state.

“We’re getting the funds out the door as fast as we possibly can,” Gov. Justice said. “We now have 61 cities and counties that have applied for this funding and I’m hopeful that we’re going to be able to shove a bunch more dollars out the door very soon.”

A web portal is available for city and county government officials to apply for this grant funding: grants.wv.gov. Interested parties can also call the helpline: 1-833-94-GRANT.

“We still have about 280 cities and counties that could still apply for this money and we want to encourage everyone to submit an application,” Gov. Justice said.

 

 

 

WORKFORCE WEST VIRGINIA UPDATE
In his remarks during Friday’s briefing, Acting Commissioner of WorkForce West Virginia Scott Adkins reported that WorkForce has now distributed more than $200 million in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits to more than 24,000 eligible claimants across the state. However, Adkins added, the agency has seen a recent increase in the number of fraudulent PUA claims.

“PUA benefits are intended for self-employed workers, who normally do not qualify for unemployment benefits, but were authorized to receive benefits by the CARES Act,” Adkins said. “WorkForce West Virginia has received more than 35,000 fraudulent PUA claims just since June 1.

Adkins added that individuals found to be committing fraud may be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

 

 

 

COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOLS UPDATE
During his address Friday, Gov. Justice took time to discuss recent accomplishments made through the Communities In Schools (CIS) program in West Virginia 

“This school year, 10 out of the 13 high schools with seniors in the CIS program exceeded their school’s overall graduation rate, which is a tremendous accomplishment and proof that this program is changing the lives of our students and the communities where they live,” Gov. Justice said. “And eight out of the 13 schools with seniors in CIS had a 100 percent graduation rate.”

Working alongside partners in the local community, the CIS program provides resources to engage students in the classroom and to encourage better attendance and graduation rates.

 

 

 

FREE FISHING DAYS THIS WEEKEND
Gov. Justice also took time out of Friday’s briefing to remind all West Virginians that this weekend – Saturday, June 13 and Sunday, June 14 – are Free Fishing Days across the state. 

“No fishing license is required for these two days,” Gov. Justice said. “So, if you haven’t fished for awhile and you’re interested in picking it back up again or if you’re new to fishing and you want to learn, try it, it’s free.”

 

 

 

FREE COMMUNITY TESTING: GRANT, GREENBRIER, HAMPSHIRE, HANCOCK, HARDY, LOGAN, AND WOOD COUNTIES
Gov. Justice also offered a reminder that free community COVID-19 testing would be available today – Saturday, June 13 – in Grant, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Hardy, Logan, and Wood counties. Testing is available until 4 p.m.

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 locations within each county are available at the following links:

Additional testing was performed yesterday – Friday, June 12 – in Greenbrier, Hancock, Logan, and Wood counties only.

 

 

 

WEST VIRGINIA STRONG SUMMER FOOD ASSISTANCE MAP
On Friday, 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 now available online.

More than 600 free-feeding locations have been made available through a multi-agency effort between the West Virginia National Guard, the West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services, the West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (WV VOAD), and the United Way. To-date, more than 5,000 people have used the online map.

If food distribution locations aren't available in some communities, individuals are encouraged to call 211 for further assistance.

 

 

 

DATA UPDATE
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice provided another overview of statewide data on COVID-19, highlighting that West Virginia’s cumulative percentage of positive test results had dropped to 1.80 percent.

West Virginia continues to excel in several metrics compared to its surrounding states and the national average. View the latest COVID-19 data at Coronavirus.wv.gov.

 

 

 

Thursday, June 11: Gov. Justice announces 2020 State Fair of West Virginia will move forward as scheduled

 

 

 

STATE FAIR OF WEST VIRGINIA
On Thursday, Gov. Justice announced that the State Fair of West Virginia’s Board of Directors had voted to move forward with plans to hold the 2020 State Fair as scheduled, from Aug. 13, 2020 through Aug. 22, 2020.

The Governor added that the State Fair will operate in accordance with strict safety guidelines already established for the reopening of all fairs, festivals​, amusement parks, and rides​.

In the interest of public health, numerous programming changes including limited crowds, changes to concerts and free entertainment, and increased advance ticket sales will be announced in the coming weeks. State Fair officials will also be implementing measures for social distancing, enhanced cleaning procedures, employee screening, and COVID-19 testing for carnival employees and other groups working the fair. Specific procedures will be posted on the State Fair website when they become available.

 

 

 

REOPENING STATE GOVERNMENT OFFICES
Also on Thursday, Gov. Justice announced that plans continue to be made to transition State employees back into government office buildings.

“Many people have worked from home and they have done terrific work, I don’t think we’ve skipped a beat,” Gov. Justice said. “I want our state workers to know that their safety is paramount and our highest concern.”

The Governor said that he wants Cabinet Secretaries to have the flexibility to bring employees back in a way that makes sense for their individual agency. Telework will continue for the most vulnerable individuals and for offices that can maintain full services with remote work.

The West Virginia National Guard will help ensure each agency has proper cleaning and disinfecting procedures in place for each facility.

Safety guidelines for the reopening of government office buildings are now available.

 

 

 

CLARIFICATION ON FIRE DEPARTMENT FUNDRAISERS
Also on Thursday, Gov. Justice clarified that fire departments are not restricted from holding fundraiser events.

“All we ask is that you maintain social distance and hold these fundraisers in a safe manner,” Gov. Justice said. “I urge our people to know how important our volunteer fire departments are. We should all try to find a way to support these great organizations and the need that all of us have for them.”

 

 

 

$10,000 DONATED TO FOOD BANK THROUGH WEST VIRGINIA ABCA
Additionally Thursday, Gov. Justice congratulated the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration (WVABCA) for facilitating a $10,000 donation by the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association to the Mountaineer Food Bank to assist those adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I want to thank them for stepping up and making this donation and I especially want to thank our Commissioner of the WVABCA, Fred Wooton, for his work with this organization,” Gov. Justice said. “I also want to take this opportunity to thank all our West Virginia food banks for their incredible work and service to West Virginians throughout this pandemic. Please remember these organizations and, if you can, please donate to them.”

 

 

 

Wednesday, June 10: Gov. Justice announces nursing home visitation, graduation ceremonies to be allowed with limitations

 

 

 

NURSING HOME VISITATION PLAN ANNOUNCED
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources unveiled a multi-phased plan to resume visitation at West Virginia’s nursing homes, with limitations, beginning as early as next Wednesday, June 17.

If, on June 17, a nursing home has had no active COVID-19 cases for at least the past 14 consecutive days, visitation will be permitted to resume, with certain restrictions in place.

Gov. Justice announced that, under the plan, appointments will be required to visit any nursing home. Additional visitation rules will be determined on a facility-by-facility basis, but may include restrictions to the number of visitors permitted at once, age restrictions, time limits, contact limitations, and more.

On March 12, Gov. Justice asked for all nursing homes to ban visitation to their facilities. On April 17, Gov. Justice issued an executive order to test every nursing home resident and employee – making West Virginia the first state in the nation to order the full testing of its nursing homes.

 

 

 

GRADUATION CEREMONY GUIDELINES RELEASED
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that the West Virginia Board of Education and State Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch have released guidelines for counties to use to start holding in-person graduation ceremonies beginning as early as Monday, June 22.

The guidelines require that all in-person graduations must be held at outdoor venues and that events must be structured to allow for adequate social distancing and for other safety measures to be properly followed.

Six feet of social distancing is required at all times and face masks or coverings are strongly encouraged. Several additional safety precautions are also required.

 

 

 

JUNE 10 REOPENINGS UNDERWAY WEDNESDAY
Also Wednesday, Gov. Justice reminded West Virignians that another round of reopenings officially went into effect as part of the Governor’s plan to restart the state’s economy.

Private campgrounds as well as state park campgrounds, cabins, and lodges are now permitted to reopen to out-of-state guests, provided that their stays do not exceed seven days. 

The seven-day restriction does not apply to individuals who maintain a semi-permanent or permanent resident at such campgrounds.

 

 

 

ALL OUTDOOR, OPEN-AIR CONCERTS ALLOWED TO RESUME JULY 1
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that all outdoor, open-air concerts will now be permitted to resume on Wednesday, July 1, provided that strict safety guidelines are being properly followed.

The reopening of all outdoor, open-air concerts pertains to traditional concert venues, as well as bars or restaurants with outdoor performance areas, so long as they allow for patrons to have enough space to properly follow the appropriate safety guidelines.

On Monday, Gov. Justice announced that outdoor, open-air concerts, specifically at fairs and festivals, would be allowed to resume to coincide with the reopening of fairs and festivals themselves on July 1.

 

 

 

NEW WHITEWATER RAFTING GUIDANCE IN EFFECT
Also Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that new safety guidelines for whitewater rafting businesses officially went into effect.

Under the new guidelines, whitewater rafting groups are now allowed to have up to eight guests and one guide per raft.

 

 

 

UPDATE ON CHURCH OUTBREAKS
Additionally on Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that, in the time since churches have resumed in-person services, there have been a handful of church-related outbreaks across the state, ranging between five and eight cases per congregation. 

“In total, we’ve seen at least 24 positive cases among church members,” Gov. Justice said. “We all know that a lot of the attendance at our churches are our elderly and, being the most vulnerable of all, we surely don't want to get in a situation where we are passing COVID-19 to our elderly.”

The Governor added that the primary factor in these outbreaks was that the organizations had not adequately planned or put in place social distancing or infection control guidelines. 

“All I am doing now is encouraging you, in our church settings, to follow the guidelines as far as every other pew, as far as social distancing, as far as wearing masks,” Gov. Justice said. “We love our church activities, we absolutely treasure them the most of all. But I’m just cautioning you to take heed and be a little more careful.”

 

 

 

Monday, June 8: Gov. Justice outlines Week 7 of The Comeback; announces reopening schedule for summer youth camps

 

 

 

WEEK 7 OF “THE COMEBACK” UNDERWAY MONDAY
On Monday, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that the Week 7 phase of West Virginia Strong – The Comeback was officially underway, allowing for the reopening of several additional types of operations, provided that all safety guidelines are properly followed.

Operations permitted to resume operations on Monday, June 8, included:

  • Low-contact outdoor youth sports practices
  • WVSSAC-sanctioned athletics and band summer training programs
  • Little league sports practices
  • All remaining adult sports facilities including indoor tennis courts, racquetball courts, outdoor basketball courts, and similar venues

Click here to view guidelines for all low-contact sports
Click here to view additional WVSSAC guidelines

 

 

 

SUMMER YOUTH CAMPS ALLOWED TO RESUME ON JUNE 22
Also Monday, Gov. Justice announced that summer youth camps will be allowed to resume operations on Monday, June 22, provided that all additional safety guidelines are followed to help keep West Virginians as safe as possible.

Both day camps and overnight camps will be permitted to reopen.

 

 

 

IN CALL WITH VICE PRESIDENT PENCE AND GOVERNORS ACROSS AMERICA, GOV. JUSTICE CELEBRATES THE GOODNESS OF WEST VIRGINIA
Gov. Justice explained that, prior to his address on Monday, he took part in another videoconference call with Vice President Mike Pence and governors from across the United States to discuss the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to thanking the Vice President along with President Donald J. Trump and his entire administration for their tireless work in fighting COVID-19, Gov. Justice also described what he called a “miracle” happening in West Virginia.

“The West Virginia miracle is just this – we don’t have oceans or Great Lakes on our borders. We’re sitting right in the middle of a hotbed, with border counties all the way around our state,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re within a rock’s throw of two-thirds of the population of this country...and yet, our West Virginians are pitching some of the greatest numbers on the planet.

“I said to all the states on the call: ‘Look at what has happened right here in West Virginia,’” Gov. Justice continued. “‘We are the example of goodness. We are the very place that all of you should come to.’ That’s exactly what I told them because I am so proud of what West Virginians have done.”

 

 

 

WEST VIRGINIANS URGED TO PARTICIPATE IN CENSUS
Also Monday, 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.

 

 

 

MORE THIS WEEK

 

WVDNR stocks nearly 6,000 pounds of catfish

 

 

 

Leading up to West Virginia's annual free fishing weekend, the state Division of Natural Resources has stocked nearly 6,000 pounds of channel catfish in 41 ponds and lakes around the state.

"Summer catfish stockings have become really popular over the last few years and we're excited to be giving anglers and their families another chance to catch a fish and enjoy our state's natural beauty," said DNR Director Stephen McDaniel. "Whether it's trout in the spring or catfish in the summer, our stocking program provides incredible fishing opportunities for West Virginians throughout the year."

Catfish stocking starts each year as the spring trout season winds down. It also coincides with the state's free fishing weekend, which will be June 13-14 this year. During this annual event, anglers may fish in state waters without having to first buy a fishing license, trout stamp or national forest stamp.

 

 

 

West Virginia National Guard, Peruvian military share best practices for COVID-19 response

 

 

 

On Thursday, leadership of the West Virginia National Guard held a video conference call with their State Partnership Program counterparts in Perú to discuss COVID-19 military response efforts and best practices.

The video conference was held in lieu of face-to-face meetings due to travel restrictions still active during the ongoing pandemic.

Topics covered were securing and utilizing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies, active response efforts including decontamination missions and assisting public health officials with testing, and overall force protection methods to keep members of both military organizations safe and healthy.

 

 

 

ALSO THIS WEEK

 

WILDLIFE: How to get your kids properly measured for a hunting bow

STATE PARKS: Brad Reed named State Parks Chief

EDUCATION: Burch continues as State Superintendent of Schools

EDUCATION: Scenarios for re-entry released

HEALTH: DHHR awards funding for expansion of Quick Response Teams

NATIONAL GUARD: WVNG helps safeguard primary elections against cyber threats

SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: Resources to support small businesses during pandemic

ARTS, CULTURE & HISTORY: 2020 Appalachian String Band Music Festival canceled

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: Adopt-A-Highway Volunteer Appreciation Day canceled

 

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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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