West Virginia Week in Review - March 21, 2020: COVID-19 Update

3/21/2020

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COVID-19 Response Weekly Update
March 13 - March 20

 

 

 

This week, Gov. Jim Justice joined State health leaders in the fight to slow the spread of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The Governor's Administration is working to keep the public informed of the many precautionary measures being taken in the interest of protecting them from the spread of the disease.

Additional information about COVID-19 and what West Virginia is doing to combat the virus can be found on Coronavirus.wv.gov or by calling the state's 24/7 hotline at 1-800-887-4304.

 

 

 

Friday, March 20: Gov. Justice orders more closures; calls for increased blood donations

 

 

 

On Friday, Gov. Jim Justice issued an Executive Order, mandating the statewide closure of all West Virginia state park lodges as well as the closure of the Hatfield McCoy Trail to the general public. This closure only pertains to lodges and the Hatfield McCoy Trail specifically. It does not mandate the closure of entire state parks, campsites, or cabins.

Also on Friday, Gov. Justice ordered the suspension of several regulations, which will cut bureaucratic red tape and allow professionals and all West Virginians more flexibility throughout the ongoing State of Emergency related to COVID-19.

The Governor also announced that The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during the COVID-19 outbreak. As the COVID-19 pandemic has grown in the U.S., blood drive cancellations have grown at an alarming rate. Healthy individuals are needed to donate now to help patients counting on lifesaving blood.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice also announced that the West Virginia Tourism Office has launched an interactive map of open restaurants that shows the locations of all eateries in the state that are continuing to operate drive thru, carryout, and delivery services at this time.

At the direction of the Governor, the Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Children and Families requested the immediate suspension of the rule requiring applicants of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to participate in drug screening, which often requires close contact between multiple individuals.

Also Friday, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and Council for Community and Technical College Education voted to provide students with greater flexibilities in accessing and renewing state financial aid programs. 

 

 

 

Thursday, March 19: Gov. Justice issues Executive Order providing unemployment benefits to those affected by coronavirus

 

 

 

On Thursday, Gov. Justice issued an Executive Order, directing the West Virginia Department of Commerce and WorkForce West Virginia to provide unemployment benefits to those affected by COVID-19 to the maximum extent permitted under federal law.

Individuals who are separated from employment, have had their hours of employment reduced, or are prevented from working due to either a documented medical condition caused by COVID-19 or due to communicable disease control measures related to COVID-19 are eligible for these benefits, according to the Governor’s order.

 

 

 

On Thursday, Gov. Jim Justice joined State health leaders at the Capitol Complex in Charleston for a virtual press briefing to once again update the public on the many precautionary measures being taken. During his remarks, the Governor announced that he had issued an Executive Order, mandating the statewide closure of all barbershops, hair salons, and nail salons.

Also during the briefing, Gov. Justice announced that, through the Governor’s Contingency Fund, the state has purchased 100,000 N95 surgical masks from a private West Virginia business. The West Virginia National Guard also bought 275 sets of highly protective Tyvek suits with special filtering masks which will also be used by healthcare providers and first responders.

Gov. Justice also issued an Executive Order Thursday, giving counties the authority and flexibility to evaluate courthouse services and staffing and to make decisions that are in the best interest of each respective county, as determined by officials from each county. 

Gov. Justice also announced during the press conference that on February 15 he came into contact with an individual who has since tested positive for COVID-19. Because of this contact, the Governor was administered a test for COVID-19 and the results came back negative.

 

 

 

Wednesday, March 18: Gov. Justice announces closure of gyms and recreation facilities

 

 

 

On Wednesday, Gov. Justice joined State health leaders for a press briefing to announce that he had issued an Executive Order, mandating the statewide closure of all fitness centers, gymnasiums, recreation centers, and similar businesses or places where the public tends to congregate for recreation, sport, or other similar leisure activities. Also Wednesday, at the request of the Governor, the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration temporarily suspended the regulatory rule prohibiting bars and restaurants from providing beer and wine for off-premises consumption to the citizens of the State of West Virginia.

Also Wednesday, Gov. Justice called President Donald J. Trump at the White House. During the call, President Trump pledged his support to the state of West Virginia, including agreeing to quickly provide swabs and other testing supplies.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice also announced that he has ordered all cabinet secretaries in his administration to determine non-essential employee positions and allow those employees to begin working from home. The Governor has tasked his cabinet secretaries with determining which positions will be considered “essential” in their respective departments.

 

 

 

The Governor also asked all businesses across West Virginia to look for ways to allow as many employees as possible to work from home while still keeping our essential businesses operating.

The West Virginia Capitol Complex remained open for official business Wednesday. But tours and other non-business visits were halted until further notice.

On Wednesday, the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles announced their regional offices will close to the public beginning Thursday, March 19. Out of an abundance of caution, and in accordance with the most recent guidelines and best practices recommended by both the CDC and West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources regarding COVID-19, this action will reduce exposure to both customers and employees. The DMV is also extending the expiration date of any driver’s license, instructional permit, or vehicle registration with an expiration date in March or April of 2020 for three months from the date of expiration on the face of the document. However, DMV will continue to renew any of these items online or through the U.S. Mail as they come in.

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 17: Executive Order limiting restaurants and bars, closing casinos statewide

 

 

 

Gov. Justice conducted a statewide address at the Capitol Complex in Charleston Tuesday. During the address, the Governor announced the state's first positive case of COVID-19.

Gov. Justice also announced that he would be ordering the closure of all restaurants and bars in West Virginia. These establishments are able to continue to operate carry out and drive-thru operations. Gov. Justice also announced that he has ordered the closure of all casinos.

The Bureau of Senior Services also released Tuesday that they are working with county-based provider networks and Area Agencies on Aging to address the needs of our seniors regarding COVID-19. On Tuesday, the Bureau received new guidance and policy related to funds from the Administration on Community Living. Home-delivered meals are continuing and arrangements are being made for congregate meal recipients to also continue to receive meals. In-home services are also continuing. Providers are required to maintain contact with their homebound and nutrition participants.

 

 

 

Monday, March 16: Gov. Justice: “We’re trying to be ready in every way we can possibly be”

 

 

 

During the Governor’s press conference Monday, he announced that due to the emerging health threat posed by COVID-19 and in accordance with President Donald J. Trump’s declaration of a National Emergency, he had declared a State of Emergency for all 55 counties in West Virginia.

Also during Monday’s address, Gov. Justice announced that he and health industry leaders are looking into ways that hospitals across West Virginia can coordinate resources to ensure that as many beds and as much equipment is available in the event of community spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia.

 

 

 

Before Monday’s press conference, Gov. Justice and several of his cabinet officials took part in a video conference with President Trump, the governors of every state and territory in the country, and other national leaders to discuss preventative measures that are being taken to slow the spread of coronavirus, while also ensuring the public has what they need to live their day-to-day lives.

President Donald J. Trump issued a new set of guidelines for all Americans for the next 15 days to slow the spread of COVID-19. This includes avoiding all social gatherings of more than 10 people.

 

 

 

On Monday, members of the West Virginia National Guard provided classroom and hands-on personal protective equipment instruction to more than 50 first responders from Kentucky and West Virginia in order to help prepare local public safety agencies on how to minimize cross-contamination through proper wear of this equipment.

The training was provided as part of a coordinated state-level public health preparation and response effort for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, initiated by Gov. Justice, and being led by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

 

 

 

Sunday, March 15: Department of Education and counties open 500 sites to feed children

 

 

 

The West Virginia Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition announced Sunday that they had worked with all 55 counties to open sites to feed children this week. Starting Monday, March 16, counties opened more than 500 sites around the state to ensure children who require school breakfasts and lunches received meals during the statewide school closure caused by the COVID-19 threat. The amount of work that was done over a 48-hour period usually requires months of planning. However, at the direction of Gov. Justice, Superintendent Clayton Burch, his leadership team, and the Office of Child Nutrition worked throughout the weekend with counties to prepare for distribution on Monday. 

 

 

 

Saturday, March 14: Gov. Justice, Department of Education issue updated guidance on school closures in West Virginia

 

 

 

On Saturday, Gov. Justice and the West Virginia Department of Education announced that all schools will remain closed to students through at least March 27, 2020. No return date for students has been set at this time. Gov. Justice, State Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch, and other education leaders will continue to monitor COVID-19 developments throughout this two-week period, with the goal of getting students back to class as soon as safely possible.

Only essential staff reported on Monday, March 16, through Wednesday, March 18. During this time, the county superintendents worked with local boards of education, leadership teams, and essential staff to devise a continuity plan that outlines how to best meet the needs of students and the community during this extended closure.

All child nutrition programs are minimally affected by this statewide school closure. Essential personnel including transportation staff, custodial staff, and food service staff are necessary during this time to ensure child nutrition efforts are implemented effectively for the over 200,000 students who rely on school meals for their daily nutrition.

 

 

 

Friday, March 13: Gov. Justice announces closure of West Virginia schools

 

 

 

Last Friday, Gov. Justice announced that due to the emerging health threat posed by COVID-19, he has ordered the closure of all pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade schools in West Virginia. At the conclusion of the school day on Friday, March 13, all pre-K-12 schools and school-related extracurricular activities closed to students. This order does not apply to West Virginia’s childcare system such as daycare centers and home-based childcare providers. Gov. Justice recommended that all community and private schools also close and follow the guidance of the State.

 

 

 

Also this week:

West Virginia Welcome Centers and Rest Areas to remain open to travelers

W.Va. Guard holds tabletop exercise on COVID-19 response

COVID-19 Testing Criteria Explained for West Virginia

Gov. Justice, WVU Hospitals announce plans for keeping Fairmont Regional Medical Center open; construction of new community

Gov. Justice announces additional $39.9 million in FEMA funds for schools damaged during 2016 flooding in Kanawha and Nicholas counties

Gov. Justice announces additional FEMA grant funds for flood-damaged properties in Greenbrier County

 

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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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