West Virginia Week in Review - June 20, 2020: COVID-19 Update


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COVID-19 Response Weekly Update
June 13 – June 19
Week 8 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 19: Gov. Justice signs order allowing low-contact outdoor sporting events, in-person high school graduation ceremonies
On Friday, Gov. Justice announced that he had signed an executive order that will formally allow several activities, currently scheduled to reopen in the Week 9 phase of West Virginia Strong – The Comeback, to resume, provided that all additional guidelines are followed to help keep West Virginians as safe as possible.

Approved activity reopenings on Monday, June 22, include:  
  • Youth sports games with spectators
  • Outdoor sporting events with spectators
  • Outdoor equestrian events with spectators
  • Summer Youth Camps
Click here to view guidelines for all low-contact outdoor sports events
Click here to view guidelines for summer youth camps

The same executive order also formally allows county school systems to start holding in-person high school graduation ceremonies beginning Monday, June 22, provided that all additional guidelines are followed to help keep West Virginians as safe as possible.

Click here to view guidelines for in-person graduation ceremonies

The order will go into effect on Monday, June 22, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. 
During his briefing, Gov. Justice also took time to announce that he had signed a proclamation, officially declaring Friday as Juneteenth Day in West Virginia.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is celebrated each year on June 19 to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. 
Also, Gov. Justice took time to celebrate that today, Saturday, June 20, 2020, is West Virginia’s 157th Birthday.

“What a place to live. We all, who live in West Virginia, know all the goodness that goes on here,” Gov. Justice said. “We know how good our families are. We know that we’re faith-based, we’re low-crime, and we’re loving people who are appreciative of one another.

“Through the miracle that’s happened here in the past few months, the world has seen how good and how safe of a place that West Virginia truly is,” Gov. Justice continued. “More people will come now because of you, West Virginia. I am so proud of you and I’m excited to celebrate this great, great birthday.”

For West Virginia Day today, Gov. Justice will honor the state’s birthday with a special video message from leaders across the Mountain State. The video message is available to be viewed on the Governor’s Facebook pageTwitter feed, and YouTube channel. 
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice provided an update on several church-related outbreaks of COVID-19 across West Virginia.

Three such outbreaks remain active at this time. They are associated with churches located in Greenbrier, Ohio, and Boone counties.

The total number of positive cases associated with the outbreak in Greenbrier County is now up to 34, with three of the individuals currently hospitalized. A total of 104 congregation members were tested.

The total number of positive cases associated with the outbreak in Ohio County is now at five, with two of the individuals currently hospitalized.

The total number of positive cases associated with the outbreak in Boone County is now at eight.

“Church is absolutely our most sacred ground,” Gov. Justice said. “But please, you have got to wear a mask, you have got to sit every other pew. And if people aren’t doing it, for crying out loud, step up and say something.”

Despite hearing word of a potential outbreak at a second church in Greenbrier County, State Health Officer Dr. Cathy Slemp provided additional clarification.

“What we have is actually not a new outbreak in that church, we have an exposure from the first church,” Dr. Slemp said. “So, some of the congregation members from a second church were exposed to individuals who became ill from the first church.

“So we have simply been making sure we’ve notified all of those individuals that might have been potentially exposed and the church has been closed for the next couple weeks of services just in case anyone were to develop illness there and then they’re doing cleaning at the church.” 
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice provided words of caution to West Virginians who have or who are considering traveling to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, after cases have dramatically increased at the popular vacation destination in recent days.

“We have a lot of close ties in South Carolina,” Gov. Justice said. “Lo and behold, they’ve got a big-time problem and it becomes our problem too because we’ve got a lot of people that love to go to Myrtle Beach...and now we’ve got multiple people that are coming back that are testing positive.

“If you ought to travel to Myrtle Beach – and I would think twice before I did that, West Virginia, because they’ve got a real problem going on there – but if you do that, what I would highly recommend you do is, when you get back, is just consider quarantining yourself and take the time to be tested. You may very well save a life and that life might be your own or someone close to you.” 
Gov. Justice also provided an update on the 2020 State Fair of West Virginia, just after the fair’s Board of Directors announced that they had opted to cancel the event.

“The State Fair brings together tens of thousands of people and, at the end of the day, they just decided that it was too much too soon,” Gov. Justice said. “Of course, we all love the fair and we’re going to miss it in every way. But, at the same time, we understand and respect the decision.” 
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice reported that, despite concerns of a COVID-19 outbreak in one of Raleigh County’s nursing homes, further investigation showed that that there are no active cases at the nursing home at this time. 
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice expressed his congratulations to officials with Thomas Health after learning that they have agreed on a plan to come out of bankruptcy, a move that will save more than 1,600 jobs.

“During this pandemic Thomas Health stepped up and made St. Francis Hospital a COVID-19 surge facility in the event our hospitals were over capacity,” Gov. Justice said. “We provided them funding through FEMA to set up this special hospital to assist our hospital system to maintain its load.

“We truly appreciate their partnership and are so happy for them, all their employees, and the great West Virginians who rely on Thomas for top-quality healthcare service,” Gov. Justice continued. 
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 more than $11 million has now been distributed all across the state.

“We surely can’t pump the money out the door until our cities and counties apply,” Gov. Justice said. “We have guidelines that we have to follow from the federal government, but we’re moving as fast as possible. We’re calling cities and counties ourselves and encouraging them to apply to get the money out the door.”

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.

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 also offered a reminder that free community COVID-19 testing is being provided today – Saturday, June 20 – in Ohio, Putnam, and Summers 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. 
Gov. Justice also announced that more free community COVID-19 testingwill be provided next Friday, June 26, and Saturday, June 27, in Cabell, Hancock, and Mingo counties. 
Gov. Justice and the DHHR also announced locations for additional free COVID-19 community testing in Boone, Lincoln, McDowell, Raleigh, and Wyoming counties, at various times and dates, beginning Monday, June 22, through Monday, June 29. 
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice provided another update on his initiative to test all inmates and employees within the State’s network of correctional facilities for COVID-19.

The most recent testing results showed there were a total of ten active COVID-19 cases among inmates and residents at one jail and one prison across West Virginia and four active COVID-19 cases among corrections employees and contract staff.

More than 10,000 inmates and 4,000 employees were tested in total. Two jails and one prison have completely recovered all of their COVID-19 patients. 
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 1.67 percent, the lowest such rate since the pandemic first reached West Virginia.

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. 
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Wednesday, June 17: Gov. Justice urges churchgoers to follow safety guidelines; announces unemployment better than national average
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that the DHHR had identified its sixth church-related outbreak of COVID-19 in the state since the beginning of the pandemic, finding the virus had spread through an Ohio County church.

“The reality is really simple: when we don’t adhere to the guidelines, as far as wearing masks, participating in social distancing, and sitting in every other pew, we’re asking for trouble,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve got to all know that, while church is the most holy and sacred ground, it is the spot where we’re singing, we’re projecting our voices, we’re closer together, and all the things that make it ripe for an outbreak or a potential problem.”

The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department began investigating the local church-related outbreak. 
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that Workforce West Virginia is reporting that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the month of May dropped three percentage points to 12.9 percent.

The national unemployment rate decreased to 13.3 percent in May, meaning West Virginia’s jobs rate is currently better than the national average.

“It’s not a whole lot to be terribly in the mood to celebrate at this time because we are still looking at an outrageous unemployment rate,” Gov. Justice said. “But, think about this for a second, only a few months ago, in September, the national media was calling us like crazy and we were reporting an unemployment rate of 4.6 percent.

“The whole world turned upside down,” Gov. Justice continued. “We’re going to get back, but we’ve still got a long way to go.” 
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice provided clarification that, due to the extreme difficulty of being able to maintain social distancing indoors with close dancing and singing, high school proms remain prohibited at this time.

“Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about this,” Gov. Justice said. “I hope that, like graduations, we can get back to holding these events, but now is not the time.” 
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Tuesday, June 16: Gov. Justice announces $6.1 million in grant funding from U.S. DOJ to aid COVID-19 mitigation efforts, substance use treatment program
On Tuesday, Gov. Justice announced that the U.S. Department of Justice had provided $6,167,992 in grant funding to the State of West Virginia.

Of the total amount, $4,292,447 has been awarded to the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation in the form of West Virginia Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) grant funds. These funds will be used by the DCR to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

The remaining $1,875,545 has been awarded to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources in the form of West Virginia Statewide Implementation, Enhancement, and Evaluation Projects (STEEP) grant funds. These funds will be used to expand the West Virginia Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Program.

The West Virginia LEAD Program diverts individuals with a substance use disorder (SUD) or a co-occurring disorder from the criminal justice system to community-based treatment and recovery services. 
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Monday, June 15: Gov. Justice discusses church outbreak in Greenbrier County
On Monday, Gov. Justice reported that the DHHR had identified its fifth church-related outbreak of COVID-19 in the state since the beginning of the pandemic, finding the virus had spread through a Greenbrier County church.

“As soon as I heard about this outbreak, I immediately ordered the DHHR, West Virginia National Guard, and Greenbrier County Health Department to run to the fire,” Gov. Justice said.

The church was closed for 14 days of environmental cleaning with support from the National Guard.

“We have concern like you can’t imagine in that community right now,” Gov. Justice said. “How many communities do we have like this in West Virginia? They’re everywhere. Absolutely, this could be your community tomorrow. This could be your church tomorrow. This could be your family tomorrow.”

Due to the outbreak, Gov. Justice announced that free community COVID-19 testing in Greenbrier County – which had already been underway over the weekend – had been extended for an additional day to encourage more community members to be tested. 
During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice reminded West Virginians that this week marked the the eighth week of his plan to reopen the state’s economy: West Virginia Strong – The Comeback.

No additional reopenings were scheduled for Week 8, as health experts continue to monitor the number of COVID-19 cases across the state.

“We’ve had a lot of reopenings that we’ve had in the past few weeks, but we still need to remain very cautious,” Gov. Justice said. “As we go forward, we’re going to continue to watch the numbers and stay on top of them in every way we possibly can.” 
On Monday, 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 670 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.

If food distribution locations aren't available in some communities, individuals are encouraged to call 211 for further assistance. 
During his remarks on Monday, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch announced the expanded availability of the Connections App – a resource launched in April 2020 with a goal to reduce isolation and offer support resources to West Virginians sustaining recovery from a Substance Use Disorder – during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Connections App, previously available only to patients connected to treatment providers to encourage engagement and treatment adherence, will now be accessible by individuals in recovery who are no longer affiliated with a provider but still need the Connections App resources. 

The Connections App from CHESS Health is an engaging, evidence-based solution proven to improve treatment and long-term recovery outcomes for individuals with substance use disorder. 
Once more this week, 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. 
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Gov. Justice, President Donald Trump celebrate West Virginia being awarded $12 million for additional Corridor H work
On Monday, Gov. Justice issued a statement after learning that West Virginia had been awarded $12 million to help fund the section of U.S. Route 48 (Corridor H) between Kerens and Parsons.

“The funding announced today is exactly the kind of boost we need for a project that is going to change the landscape of our state forever, and so this is a really proud day for all West Virginians,” Gov. Justice said. “There are thousands of roads that we’re upgrading under my watch. But I’ve said over and over that Corridor H is absolutely the number one beacon that can bring the most goodness to West Virginia.”

Later in the week, President Donald J. Trump also celebrated the news, posting on social media his support of the project in West Virginia. 
“The Corridor H project is the shining example of how Governor Justice’s years-long commitment to improving our state’s transportation infrastructure is going to make life better for all West Virginians,” West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Byrd White added. “It’s more money in everyone’s wallet, it’s a smoother and safer ride behind the wheel, and it’s a project that was stuck in the mud for years and years until Governor Justice walked in the door and got dirt moving and helped get cash flowing in.” 
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Gov. Justice secures over $26.9 million for new Clendenin Elementary School
Under the leadership of Gov. Justice, the State of West Virginia was awarded more than $26.9 million this week through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the construction of a new Clendenin Elementary School in Kanawha County.

Clendenin Elementary was one of several schools destroyed in the historic June 2016 West Virginia floods.

“As Governor, it’s been my honor to work on behalf of our Elk River communities to help rebuild a sense of normalcy after devastation we all saw in 2016,” Gov. Justice said. “I’ve been in constant communication with our friends at FEMA to bring this money to West Virginia so we can move forward in building the all-new Clendenin Elementary School and I send my sincere thanks to all our Congressional Representatives for their help in securing this funding.

“West Virginians everywhere should be incredibly proud. This is truly an exciting day toward recovery for our children, parents, teachers, and so many others,” Gov. Justice continued. “We still have more work to do. But I’m very confident we’re going to be able to build a future in our state that’s brighter than ever.” 
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Gov. Justice celebrates U.S. Supreme Court decision clearing way for jobs and opportunities through Atlantic Coast Pipeline
After learning Monday that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling that had previously blocked construction on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) in West Virginia, Gov. Justice celebrated the high court’s decision.

“This was absolutely the correct decision and it’s exciting beyond belief because it means we’ll be able to bring in thousands of jobs and countless opportunities for our hard-working West Virginians,” Gov. Justice said. “Not to mention, the multiplier effect that the increase in natural gas production will give our entire state is off the charts.”

Gov. Justice thanked West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey for his work leading an 18-state coalition which successfully argued that a federal appeals court was incorrect in its ruling that the U.S. Forest Service lacked authority to grant the rights-of-way through forestland beneath federal trails.

According to a press release from the Attorney General's Office, the halting of pipeline construction cost the state at least 1,500 well-paying jobs and lost revenue from income and property taxes. The jobs in question paid laborers between $25 to $40 per hour plus per diem. 
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Gov. Justice congratulates The Clorox Company for sealing deal on 100-job manufacturing facility in Eastern Panhandle
After successfully pitching West Virginia as the home for The Clorox Company’s newest manufacturing facility, Gov. Justice congratulated the company on Tuesday for securing approval from the Berkeley County Planning Commission to move forward with construction on the site, which will bring 100 jobs and $190 million in economic impact to the Eastern Panhandle.

The facility, a state-of-the-art cat litter manufacturing plant, will be built in the Tabler Station business park just outside of Martinsburg.

In February, Gov. Justice spoke in support of the project at an open house event in Martinsburg.

The addition of this facility will make West Virginia the only state to be home to three Clorox company plants. The other two plants in West Virginia manufacture Kingsford charcoal. 
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Division of Natural Resources, Marshall students study how relocation impacts rattlesnakes
This week, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources spotlighted efforts by WVDNR biologists and Marshall University graduate students to monitor the movement of timber rattlesnakes to help develop a method for moving the reptiles away from high-use recreation areas.

The project is part of a three-year long study in Kanawha and Coopers Rock state forests and will help researchers come up with a way to relocate rattlesnakes found in parks and other areas frequented by people without causing harm to the snake. 
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Gov. Justice appoints Glasko-Tully to 41st District seat in House of Delegates
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice appointed Heather Glasko-Tully of Summersville to the West Virginia House of Delegates representing the 41st District, covering parts of Nicholas and Greenbrier counties.

Glasko-Tully fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Delegate Jordan Hill.

An ICU bedside nurse for 13 years, Glasko-Tully was among the 2017 recipients of the Future of Nursing WV’s “40 Under 40” award. 
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GOVERNOR: Gov. Justice declares State of Emergency in Monroe County for flooding

GOVERNOR: Gov. Justice declares State of Emergency in Fayette County for flooding 

WILDLIFE: DNR resumes regular hours of operation at West Virginia Wildlife Center

EDUCATION: West Virginia student mappers are state finalists for national competition

EDUCATION: Child well-being new focus of West Virginia Department of Education

EDUCATION: Educator development another new key focus of West Virginia Department of Education

DMV: Spencer, Lewisburg, and Moorefield locations added to appointment scheduler

DMV: Point Pleasant, Princeton, and Welch locations added to appointment scheduler

NATIONAL GUARD: Two WVNG engineer units gain new commanders

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: West Virginia State Junior Conservation Camp going virtual

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: Comments now being accepted on restoration plan for Upper Guyandotte River watershed

Contact Information

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


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

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