COVID-19 Response Weekly Update
25 - May 1
Gov. Jim Justice and State health leaders continued the fight to
slow the spread of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The
Justice Administration is working to keep the public informed of
the many 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.
A list of
all of Gov. Justice's actions and executive orders related to
COVID-19 are also available online.
COMEBACK” UPDATE: WEEK 2 REOPENINGS SCHEDULED TO BEGIN MONDAY
Gov. Justice issued a reminder Friday that “Week 2” of the
Governor’s multi-phased plan to reopen businesses across the state
– “West Virginia Strong – The Comeback” – are scheduled to begin
this coming Monday, May 4.
This phase includes the reopening of small businesses with 10 or
fewer employees, restaurants with takeaway service or outdoor
dining options, as well as religious entities and funeral homes.
Professional service operations such as hair salons, nail salons,
barbershops, and pet grooming are also among the businesses
permitted to reopen in Week 2. Additional safety guidelines for
these specific types of businesses from the West Virginia State
Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists are now available on the
GUIDELINES FOR HOTSPOT COUNTIES TO BE RELEASED
Gov. Justice also announced that additional safety guidelines will
be released soon for the state’s 11 remaining COVID-19 “hotspot”
counties – which are areas subject to stricter measures to slow the
spread of the disease as deemed necessary by local health
These remaining hotspots are Berkeley, Cabell, Harrison, Jackson,
Jefferson, Kanawha, Marion, Monongalia, Ohio, Wayne, and Wood
“We’ve been in touch with all 11 and we’re continuing to get
feedback from our experts, from the counties, and from the people
that are on the ground with our health departments,” Gov. Justice
said. “We want everybody to come back online and we want to do as
much as we possibly can, as we do the baby steps instead of the
running, but we are very aware of the hotspot counties, their
bordering outside-the-state neighbors, and different issues they
might have, so we’re going to try to treat that appropriately.”
FROM NATIONAL STOCKPILE DELIVERED TO WEST VIRGINIA HOSPITALS
Also, Gov. Justice congratulated the West Virginia State Police and
DHHR for their efforts Friday to provide medications from the
United States Strategic National Stockpile to hospitals across the
“Twenty state troopers, working together with the DHHR, have orchestrated
the delivery of life-sustaining medications to every hospital
across our state in one day,” Gov. Justice said. “These
medications, that have shortages nationwide, have been delivered
quickly by our troopers to make sure they get to the people of West
Gov. Justice announced Friday that general
revenue collections for April were $192.3
million below estimate, with the sharp decline associated with the
economic response to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
“We expected this. We’ve been watching this all along,” Gov.
Justice said. “Our revenue people – I meet with them all the time –
have been on top of this. We’re almost exactly on track with where
they believed we’d be.
“I really believe, wholeheartedly, we’re going to address the
number through the federal government allowing us to backfill
revenue. We do not have that assurance yet. But we’re working
“Remember, I’m the business guy. This is right in my wheelhouse.
We’re a state that was tracking along, making money, doing great,
and having surpluses and everything else and now this terrible
pandemic is right in our lap. And all we’re asking to do is to be
able to backfill the cause and effect of this pandemic. That’s it.
And I think our federal government is going to come through.”
THANKS RURAL LETTER CARRIERS, HEALTH WORKERS FOR THEIR SERVICE
Additionally, Gov. Justice thanked the over 1,000 West Virginia
Rural Letter Carriers who work every day of the week in all corners
of the state delivering mail – including food, medicine, recovery
checks, as well as other essential items to over 300,000 postal
customers in West Virginia.
“I want everyone to think about our mail carriers – the people
delivering your packages,” Gov. Justice said. “Think about when the
stores were closed and we needed stuff. Those people were bringing
that stuff right to your homes. Those people are doing valiant work
and absolutely we commend them and thank them from the bottom of
The Governor also thanked all the workers at local health departments
across the state who have continued to combat the spread of
“Think about your county health department. Think about the hours
that they’re going around the clock with testing, they’re visiting
the nursing homes,” Gov. Justice said. “They’re doing everything.
They are our boots on the ground. Keep them in your thoughts and
Gov. Justice also reported that WorkForce
West Virginia, along with the help of the West
Virginia National Guard, has processed 148,000 of 164,000 unemployment
claims that have been filed since March 1.
CZAR URGES WEST VIRGINIANS TO WEAR FACE COVERINGS WHEN OUTSIDE
In his address Friday, West Virginia Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay
Marsh urged all West Virginians to wear a mask or face covering of
some kind as much as possible when outside to protect against the
spread of COVID-19 as the state begins to reopen.
“As we go back out again and as we go to the stores or the other
activities we like to do, remember: protecting yourself protects
your neighbor, which protects our healthcare workers and our
healthcare capacity, and also protects our state,” Dr. Marsh said.
PROVIDES UPDATE ON NURSING HOME TESTING
Additionally Friday, DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch reported that
nearly all testing has been completed at nursing home facilities
across West Virginia.
Sec. Crouch said that despite initial hopes to unveil the results
of that testing on Friday, additional results will need to come in
over the weekend to give a more complete picture.
“We’ll wait to do the summary next week when we have complete
information, we expect to have all of those reports in by Monday,
so we anticipate doing the summary on Monday,” Sec. Crouch said.
RECOGNIZES BEGINNING OF MENTAL HEALTH MONTH
Sec. Crouch also pointed out that May is Mental Health Month and
urged West Virginians to take as much care of their mental health
as possible in these challenging times.
“This pandemic is stressful and difficult for almost everyone,”
Sec. Crouch said. “We all have a hard time dealing with not seeing
our families and not seeing our friends.
“One in five people experience mental health illness at some point
in their life and everyone is facing challenges in these trying
times. We encourage you to take care of your mental health as you
would your physical health.”
If you need mental health support, please consider calling or
(844-435-7498). Additional mental health resources
are also available on the behavioral
health page on Coronavirus.wv.gov.
In light of West Virginia's success at keeping the cumulative rate
of positive COVID-19 tests under 3 percent and in concert with the
Governor’s recently-announced plan to reopen the economy – Gov.
Justice announced Thursday that he will soon lift the “Stay At
Home” order imposed statewide last month, replacing it with a “Safer At
The new order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, May 4.
to read the full order
“‘Safer At Home’ still strongly encourages all West Virginians to
stay at home when not performing essential tasks, but no longer
mandates them to stay at home,” Gov. Justice said. “Our people have
been knocking it out of the park, but we need to keep it that way.
You should still stay home if you have any symptoms or have come in
contact with someone who has the virus.”
The Governor’s “Safer At Home” order provides additional new
guidelines for individuals, businesses, public gatherings, and
The new order will be modified each week throughout the duration of
“The Comeback” reopening plan.
Gov. Justice also issued a reminder that Thursday marked the
beginning of “Week 1” in his multi-phased plan to reopen businesses
across West Virginia. In this phase, hospitals offering elective
procedures, outpatient health care operations, and daycares are
permitted to resume services, provided that they follow all
necessary safety guidelines issued by the State.
The Governor also announced that the Department of Health and Human
Resources had issued guidance
on the testing of staff at daycare centers statewide.
RACING SCHEDULED TO RESUME WITHOUT SPECTATORS
Also Thursday, the Governor announced that horse racing will be
able to resume, without spectators, on Thursday, May 14.
“It takes a couple weeks of active training and conditioning before
it’s safe for the horses,” Gov. Justice said. “They will be
starting back very, very soon in preparation for us to have
spectatorless horse racing.”
VIRGINIANS URGED TO PARTICIPATE IN FOOD DRIVE
Additionally the Governor announced that the United Ways of West
Virginia are holding a Country
Roads Food Drive on Tuesday, May 5, to feed
families in West Virginia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I encourage you, if you would, to try to help, to try to call in
to these people, and to try to do anything and everything you
possibly can,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s great stuff when you see,
over and over, West Virginians stepping up and doing all the good
stuff that they do everyday.
“We’re trying, every way in the world, to feed our kids and our
elderly and those that are maybe having a really tough time right
now. West Virginians know that we absolutely, surely to goodness,
have to take care of people that are really having a rough go.”
VIRGINIANS REMINDED TO PARTICIPATE IN CENSUS
Gov. Justice once again encouraged all West Virginians to take the
opportunity to complete the 2020
United States Census.
“Please, please, please call your neighbors, your in-laws, your
outlaws, and everyone around you and absolutely make sure we get
counted,” Gov. Justice said.
Every West Virginian who does not respond to the Census represents
a loss of $20,000 in federal funds over the next ten years for the
state and its local communities. The funds can go toward things
like health care, education, infrastructure, school lunch programs,
ISSUE ONE-TIME PAYMENT FOR EMERGENCY LOW INCOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE
Also on Thursday, the DHHR’s Bureau for Children and Families announced
that it is issuing a one-time Emergency Low Income Energy
Assistance Program (LIEAP) supplemental payment of $100 to both
LIEAP participants and heating source vendors to offset bulk fuel
expenses from the current program year.
This one-time payment will take the place of Emergency LIEAP and
should be received by the end of May. The payment will be
automatic; an application or a termination notice will be not
VIRGINIA TO OFFER FREE SAT SCHOOL DAY TO SENIORS THIS FALL
Officials with the West Virginia Department of Education announced
Thursday that they have worked closely with College Board to
establish an SAT School Day administration this fall for West
Virginia students who will be seniors during the 2020-21 school
year. This administration of the exam will provide seniors who
would have taken the state-provided SAT School Day in spring 2020
as juniors with an opportunity to obtain SAT scores in time to be
submitted for college admissions and to qualify for the state’s
The primary test date for the fall state-provided SAT School Day
will be September 23, but counties may choose a test date of
October 14. Both school-day test dates are followed by a 10-day
window to administer tests to students who require accommodations.
A makeup date is set for October 28. In addition to the state
school-day test dates, the WVDE has provided counties with other
options, including establishing a test site and using vouchers for
seniors to test on a Saturday national test date in the fall.
PHASE OF REOPENINGS SET TO BEGIN
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that, for the third
consecutive day, the statewide cumulative rate of positive test
results remained below 3 percent, meaning that the Governor’s
six-week plan to reopen the state – “West
Virginia Strong – The Comeback” –
officially got underway.
“We have witnessed a miracle and the miracle has been you, West
Virginians. You’ve listened, you’ve responded, you’ve kept your
distance, you’ve absolutely pushed all the right buttons as we’ve
gone along, and you’ve produced numbers that are unprecedented,”
Gov. Justice said. “Now we’ve got to bring our state back to life.”
This week, outpatient health care operations were permitted to
resume for facilities regulated by Licensing Boards contained in WV
Code Chapter 30, including:
- Hearing-Aid Dealers
- Licensed Practical
- Medical Imaging and
Radiation Therapy Professionals
- Doctors of Medicine
and Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine
- Physical Therapists
- Social Workers
Also in Week 1, daycare services across the state were able to
resume, with enhanced testing procedures put in place.
These reopenings came in addition to the resumption of elective
medical procedures at hospitals across West Virginia, as ordered
by Gov. Justice last week. During his remarks,
Gov. Justice announced that the DHHR had approved applications for
39 hospitals and five ambulatory surgical centers across the state.
Hospitals seeking to resume elective procedures must have adequate
inventories of personal protective equipment (PPE) and a plan to
respond if there is a surge of COVID-19 patients in the future.
Each hospital has the discretion to determine the best time to
apply to restart elective medical procedures at their facility.
CZAR UPDATE: MARYLAND FOLLOWS WEST VIRGINIA’S LEAD IN TESTING ALL
West Virginia Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh also made remarks,
reporting that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered universal COVID-19
testing at all nursing homes across the state.
Last week, Gov. Justice issued an
executive order that made West Virginia
the first state in the country to mandate testing of all nursing
home residents and staff members statewide.
“I think this, once again, demonstrates the leadership that our
state and our Governor have illustrated,” Dr. Marsh said. “And I
think that many states will be following in tow. But West Virginia
was first and I think that’s been a very important decision since
that is our most vulnerable population.”
HOME TESTING UPDATE
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that testing for COVID-19
has been completed for all residents and staff members at the
Veterans Nursing Facility in Clarksburg.
Gov. Justice reported that, of the 306 individuals who were tested,
all 306 tests came back negative.
JUSTICE REMINDS STUDENTS TO COMPLETE FEDERAL AID APPLICATION
Gov. Justice also offered a reminder to college bound West Virginia
students or even those considering a path in higher education that
the deadline to complete the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is
Friday, May 15, 2020.
“An awful lot of you are not doing that right now and a lot of you
are probably preoccupied by this terrible virus and have a lot of
different things on your mind,” Gov. Justice said. “But, whether
you go or whether you don’t, I urge you to sign up now so you don’t
miss this window.”
FOR REOPENING CERTAIN BUSINESSES NOW AVAILABLE
On Tuesday, Gov. Justice provided additional guidelines for certain
businesses that may be permitted to reopen as early as the
"Week 2" phase his plan to reopen the state.
The guidelines provided Tuesday were for small
businesses with 10 or fewer employees, restaurants
with takeaway service or outdoor dining options,
as well as religious
entities and funeral homes – all of which
are among the types of businesses permitted to resume operations in
Week 2, currently scheduled to begin Monday, May 4.
Professional service businesses such as hair salons, nail salons,
barbershops, and pet grooming are also permitted to reopen in the
Week 2 phase of the plan. Additional guidelines for the reopening
of these types of businesses were provided this Friday by the West
Virginia State Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists
WVU PARTNER TO OFFER ONLINE COURSE FOR CONTACT TRACING
Additionally, Gov. Justice announced
that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and
the West Virginia University School of Public Health are teaming up
to offer an online course, training public health investigators how
to perform contact tracing for COVID-19.
Contact tracing is a method used to help limit the spread of
COVID-19. Health investigators work with COVID-positive patients to
try to help them remember everyone they were in contact with while
they may have been infectious. People who might have been exposed
can then be warned.
The DHHR and WVU are recruiting members of the West Virginia
National Guard and anyone assisting DHHR or local health
departments in their response to COVID-19 to take part in the
course, which begins this week. Senior undergraduate and graduate
level students in public health, health professional programs, and
related fields may also participate.
“I am proud to see this partnership and commend WVU for getting
this done,” Gov. Justice said. “This is more great work being done
by West Virginians and it’s more great work by West Virginia
SECURES ACCESS TO PPE DECONTAMINATION SYSTEM
Also on Tuesday, Gov. Justice announced
that the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency
Management has secured access to one of only 25 high-capacity
decontamination systems for personal protective equipment (PPE) in
the U.S., by working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency
and the State of Virginia.
In early April, FEMA announced that the Battelle Memorial Institute
would offer 25 Critical Care Decontamination Systems (CCDS)
nationally to decontaminate personal protective equipment for
health care and other frontline COVID-19 responders. A CCDS can
decontaminate up to 80,000 N95 masks per day when operating at full
“This is one of 25 units in the entire country and very, very soon
it’s going to come and be here,” Gov. Justice said. “I commend our
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and all of
our Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety for all that
they’ve done to make this a reality.”
ORDER ISSUED SUSPENDING REGULATIONS FOR DENTISTS, WVDE SPEECH
Also on Tuesday, Gov. Justice signed an executive
order suspending several regulatory statute
provisions to provide more flexibility to dentists and
speech-language pathologists across West Virginia as the State of
Emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
VIRGINIA STRONG – THE COMEBACK
On Monday, Gov. Justice unveiled his comprehensive plan to reopen
various aspects of the state and its economy, putting West Virginia
on the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan is called “West
Virginia Strong – The Comeback” and allows
businesses in certain sectors to reopen in phases over the next six
weeks if the rate of positive COVID-19 cases in the state remains
“We’ve come up with a methodology that we think will move us
forward, with science and math behind it, and experts behind it,
and leadership behind it, we’re absolutely moving in the right
way,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re going to monitor and watch every
day and we’re going to take small steps and we will see where we
“If we’ve got to stop, or slow, or back up, then that’s what we’re
going to do. You’ve done good work so far, West Virginia, and now
we’re going to have to move forward. We cannot sit still forever
because too many bad things will happen.”
JUSTICE ISSUES EXECUTIVE ORDER RESUMING HEALTH CARE OPERATIONS
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice signed an executive
order allowing health care providers to resume
all operations and procedures including elective procedures under
the guidelines established in the Governor’s reopening plan.
Hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers are still required to
follow the Governor’s previous Executive Order to ensure that those
larger facilities maintain sufficient response capacity in the
event of a surge.
The order also requires all West Virginia Health Care Boards to
develop, publish, and disseminate guidance outlining the best
practices to their respective memberships and professional communities
for the safe resumption or expansion of services, in order to
protect the medical and health care providers, as well as members
of the public against the spread of COVID-19.
APPLICATIONS RECEIVED FOR PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE RECEIVED
Gov. Justice also announced
Monday that more than 11,000 self-employed workers had applied for
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits through WorkForce
West Virginia just over the weekend.
The PUA program provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment
compensation to certain self-employed workers, independent
contractors and gig-economy employees who normally don't qualify
for regular state unemployment benefits. Individuals will be
notified when their applications are approved and when direct
deposit and weekly certifications are available. Payments will be
retroactively applied dating back to March 29.
ENCOURAGES PARTICIPATION IN SECOND ROUND OF PAYCHECK PROTECTION
Gov. Justice also recommended that West Virginia businesses take
advantage of the latest round of benefits being provided by the
federal government through the national Paycheck Protection
“I would encourage anybody that wanted to apply, that maybe didn’t
submit their applications in time the first time and then all the
monies ran out, to be sure that you get back in line and apply
because these dollars will flow to you and the small business
community and they will absolutely be flowing back into West
Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “And that’s good stuff because every
dollar we can get back into West Virginia will help us to be able
to jumpstart our economy and do the goodness that we do for our
people every day.”
VIRGINIA NATIONAL GUARD WORKS TO BUILD ANALYTICAL FORECASTING TOOLS
FOR COVID-19 RESPONSE
Members of the West Virginia National Guard and West Virginia
University’s John Chambers College of Business and Economics have joined
forces to develop key data systems to forecast
and track the availability, procurement, distribution, and
shortfalls of critical medical supplies throughout West Virginia
during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Once established, getting an accurate reading of the on-the-ground
demand for both type and quantity of PPE needed by the various
medical facilities, first responder and public safety agencies, and
local health departments around the state was identified as one of
the primary challenges the task force would face.