West Virginia Week in Review - May 23, 2020: COVID-19 Update

5/23/2020

 

 

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COVID-19 Response Weekly Update
May 16 – May 22

 

 

 

 

Week 4 of the Gov. Justice reopening plan – West Virginia Strong – The Comeback – is now underway and announcements regarding Week 5 reopenings have been made. The Governor's new Safer At Home order is also in effect. Click on the links to read more:

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

A list of all of Gov. Justice's actions and executive orders related to COVID-19 are also available online.

 

 

Friday, May 22: Gov. Justice provides update on Eastern Panhandle alert; signs order formalizing May 26 reopenings

 

 

 

MONITORING CONTINUES IN BERKELEY, JEFFERSON COUNTIES
On Friday, Gov. Justice provided an update on the increased monitoring underway in two Eastern Panhandle counties that recently triggered the State’s new Heightened Alert System.

On Thursday, the Governor reported that Jefferson County had 20 new cases, while Berkeley County had 15 new cases over a 24-hour period.

The Governor ordered the West Virginia National Guard to respond to the region and Gov. Justice announced that the situation is believed to be stable at this time.

 

 

 

EXECUTIVE ORDER ISSUED THAT WILL OFFICIALLY ALLOW MAY 26 REOPENINGS
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice announced that he has signed the executive order that will formally allow businesses, currently scheduled to reopen in the May 26 phase of the Governor’s reopening plan, to resume operations on that date if they so choose.

Businesses allowed to reopen on May 26, with limitations, include: 


The order will go into effect on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

Click here to view executive order

 

 

 

NEW GUIDANCE DOCUMENTS AVAILABLE FOR POOLS, BOWLING ALLEYS, LVL’S, CASINOS, AND MORE
On Friday, several additional guidance documents were made available for various types of businesses reopening in the Week 5 and Week 6 phases of the Governor’s reopening plan, including swimming poolsbowling alleys and other places with indoor amusementlimited video lottery (LVL) retailers, and casinos.

Additional types of businesses and entities will be allowed to resume operations over the next several weeks. Further guidance documents will be provided on The Comeback page of the Governor’s Office website as soon as they become available.

 

 

 

UPDATES COMING TO COVID-19 DATA DASHBOARD
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice and leaders with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources announced that the State’s COVID-19 data dashboard would be updated this afternoon to display additional information about numbers related to COVID-19 cases.

The new dashboard features heavily-expanded COVID-19 data on a county-by-county level, among other changes.

“From the beginning, we have been completely transparent about our numbers as the pandemic has gone on, we have continued to have more and more data available on the COVID-19 data dashboard,” Gov. Justice said.

“I am very excited to have this up and running,” DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch said. “We wanted to see county information, everyone wants to be able to pull that up, and I think everyone will be very pleased with that.”

 

 

 

FLAGS TO BE FLOWN AT HALF-STAFF THROUGH SUNDAY TO HONOR COVID-19 VICTIMS
As a mark of solemn respect for the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in accordance with President Donald J. Trump’s national proclamation, Gov. Justice announced that he has issued a proclamation, ordering that all United States and West Virginia state flags at all state-owned facilities across West Virginia be displayed at half-staff, beginning immediately and continuing until sunset on Sunday, May 24.

 

 

 

FLAGS TO BE FLOWN AT HALF-STAFF MONDAY MORNING IN HONOR OF MEMORIAL DAY
Also on Friday, the Governor announced that he has issued a proclamation, ordering that all United States and West Virginia state flags at all state-owned facilities across West Virginia be displayed at half-staff, from dawn until noon on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, to honor the memory of all the men and women who have paid the ultimate price defending the United States of America.

Additionally, Gov. Justice’s order requests that all citizens display their own United States and West Virginia state flags at their homes at half-staff, from dawn until noon on Memorial Day. The order also asks West Virginians to unite in prayer for permanent peace at 11 a.m. and observe the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m.

 

 

 

WEST VIRGINIANS URGED TO ENJOY MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND RESPONSIBLY
Gov. Justice also took time on Friday to remind all West Virginians to be safe when celebrating Memorial Day weekend.

“We hope that the sun is going to shine and that it’s going to be warm over the holiday weekend,” Gov. Justice said. “But the one thing that happens, every Memorial Day, that’s tragic beyond belief, we have boating accidents and swimming accidents.

“I would thoroughly encourage everyone on the water to wear a life jacket,” Gov. Justice said. “Enjoy yourself, but those life jackets are incredibly, incredibly important.”

 

 

 

WEST VIRGINIA NATIONAL GUARD UPDATE
More than 80 members of the West Virginia National Guard are providing assistance for high-density population testing taking place in Cabell, Kanawha, Marion, and Monongalia counties.

The WVNG is also finalizing plans with State partners from the Bureau for Public Health and the local health departments in the Eastern Panhandle region to address the recent uptick in positive COVID-19 cases. The Guard has outlined four areas for additional support to Governor Justice, which includes broader testing; epidemiology support; personnel support to assist in data and analytics tracking of positive versus recovered cases, local R0 rate tracking, and hospitalizations by category of case; providing outreach to sectors in the area on best practices, sanitization and PPE wear; and utilizing the Guard for logistical movement of supplies and face coverings for distribution, if needed.

 

 

 

Thursday, May 21: Gov. Justice announces reopening dates for swimming pools, movie theaters, bowling alleys and other places with indoor amusement

 

 

 

SWIMMING POOLS & CERTAIN INDOOR AMUSEMENT FACILITIES ADDED TO WEEK 5 REOPENINGS 
On Thursday, Gov. Justice announced that swimming pools, as well as bowling alleys, pool halls, roller rinks, and other places with indoor amusement will all be allowed to reopen on Saturday, May 30, provided that all additional guidelines are followed to help keep West Virginians as safe as possible.

Guidance documents will be provided on The Comeback page of the Governor’s Office website as soon as they become available.

Gov. Justice previously announced that limited video lottery retailers, as well as spas and massage businesses will also be able to resume operations on May 30 as part of the Governor’s Week 5 phase of business reopenings.

 

 

 

MOVIE THEATERS ADDED TO WEEK 6 REOPENINGS
Also on Thursday, Gov. Justice announced that movie theaters will be permitted to reopen on Friday, June 5, provided that all additional safety guidelines are followed.

Gov. Justice previously announced that casinos will also be able to resume operations on June 5 as part of the Governor’s Week 6 phase of business reopenings.

 

 

 

REMAINING WEEK 4 REOPENINGS NOW UNDERWAY
Gov. Justice reminded West Virginians that several businesses are now permitted to reopen, provided that all safety guidelines are being properly followed.

Businesses permitted to resume operations on Thursday, May 21, include:


Also Thursday, the executive order requiring out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine was lifted. In accordance with this change, additional guidance documents are available for hotels, motels, condo hotels, rental properties, and cabins.

 

HEIGHTENED ALERT SYSTEM ACTIVATED IN BERKELEY, JEFFERSON COUNTIES
Also on Thursday, Gov. Justice announced that Berkeley and Jefferson have triggered the State’s new Heightened Alert System.

Jefferson County had 20 new cases, while Berkeley County had 15 new cases.

As a result, the Governor ordered the West Virginia National Guard to travel to these two counties immediately to assess the needs of county health officials, to provide them with resources, and to work alongside state medical experts in efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.

 

 

 

GOVERNOR URGES SCHOOLS TO SAFELY CELEBRATE GRADUATING SENIORS
Gov. Justice announced that he has asked officials with the Department of Education to continue looking into options for being able to safely celebrate graduating seniors across the state.

“Let’s find a way for our graduates to be able to walk up on the stage and accept their diploma some way, even if it's not traditional,” Gov. Justice said. “I absolutely want to be able to do that so badly.

“Our Department of Education is going to be reaching out to the counties and the superintendents and see if they can come together to find a way to be able to have some form of graduation where these kids and these families are able to come – maybe wearing masks, maybe spreading out all over the place – but they’d be able to see these kids. And our kids deserve it in every way.”

 

 

 

DHHR URGES WEST VIRGINIANS TO UTILIZE VACCINES FOR CHILDREN PROGRAM
During his remarks on Thursday, Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch offered a reminder to parents who may have recently lost their insurance benefits that the State offers an option for certain children to receive free vaccines.

“Some residents are experiencing hardships and loss of insurance coverage,” Sec. Crouch said. “We want to remind residents that DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health provides free vaccines to eligible children, from birth through age 18, through the Vaccines For Children (VFC) program.

“If children fall behind on their vaccines during this pandemic, we could face a second crisis with an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease,” Sec. Crouch continued. “Uninsured and other eligible children may receive free vaccines at more than 420 participating provider sites.”
Eligibility requirements for the VFC program (must meet one of the below criteria):

  • Medicaid-eligible
  • Uninsured
  • American Indian or Alaskan Native
  • Underinsured (children with insurance which does not cover vaccines)

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 20: Gov. Justice unveils WVSTRONG Discount for State Parks; announces new testing dates for vulnerable populations

 

 

 

GOV. JUSTICE ANNOUNCES WVSTRONG STATE PARKS DISCOUNT
To show his appreciation for the resiliency and support of West Virginians during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Justice announced Wednesday that West Virginia State Parks will soon offer a historic discount on lodging for all West Virginia residents.

The offer is called the WVSTRONG Discount. For stays between June 1 through August 31, all West Virginians will be eligible for a 30 percent discount on lodging at all state parks. 

This discount is the first of its kind in the history of West Virginia State Parks.

To claim the 30 percent discount on a new reservation, simply book online at wvstateparks.com and enter promo code WVSTRONG at checkout.

 

 

 

 

 

TESTING CONTINUES FOR MINORITY, VULNERABLE POPULATIONS
Also Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that efforts to test susceptible populations across West Virginia are set to continue.

The plan provides 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.

 

 

 

WEST VIRGINIA NATIONAL GUARD COMPLETES TESTING AT HUTTONSVILLE CORRECTIONAL CENTER
At the direction of Gov. Justice and in coordination with the State DHHR and County Health Departments, the West Virginia National Guard began COVID-19 testing on Wednesday at Huttonsville Correctional Center in Randolph County

Members from Task Force CRE and Task Force Medical tested 203 staff at the corrections facility. Additional testing for the night shift staff commenced on Thursday, May 21.

On Tuesday, Gov. Justice announced​ that, for the first time, an inmate at one of West Virginia’s correctional facilities tested positive for COVID-19. The positive case was found in a 62-year-old male inmate at Huttonsville Correctional Center.

 

CITY AND COUNTY GRANT APPLICATION REMINDER
The Governor once again offered a reminder that, on May 15, the State sent out the application for cities and counties throughout West Virginia to apply for CARES Act money.

Gov. Justice also reiterated that 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.

 

 

 

WEST VIRGINIANS URGED TO PARTICIPATE IN CENSUS
Once more, 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.

Be counted in minutes: 2020census.gov.

 

 

 

DATA UPDATE
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice provided an overview of statewide data on COVID-19, highlighting that West Virginia’s cumulative percentage of positive test results has dropped, once again, to 1.92 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.

 

 

 

Tuesday, May 19: Gov. Justice signs order allowing Week 4 businesses to reopen Thursday; results of nursing home testing announced

 

 

 

EXECUTIVE ORDER TO ALLOW WEEK 4 BUSINESSES TO REOPEN
On Tuesday, Gov. Justice announced that he had signed the executive order formally allowing businesses, scheduled to be able to reopen in the next wave of Week 4 reopenings on Thursday, May 21, to resume operations on that date if they so choose.

The order officially went into effect at midnight on Thursday.

The new order also rescinded the requirement for out-of-state travelers visiting West Virginia to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival, a mandate  originally put in place on March 30.

 

 

 

STATE HEALTH OFFICIALS ANNOUNCE RESULTS OF COVID-19 TESTING IN NURSING HOMES
Also Tuesday, State Health Officer and Commissioner of the DHHR's Bureau for Public Health Dr. Cathy Slemp shared the results of Gov. Justice’s recent directive that made West Virginia the first state in the country to require the testing of all residents and staff at all nursing homes statewide.

In total, 22,598 people at 123 nursing homes were tested; including 8,911 residents and 13,687 staff members.

At the time of the testing, six percent of facilities already had COVID-19 cases identified. The initiative resulted in new identification of 28 facilities with at least one individual positive for COVID-19. 
 
New individuals positive for COVID-19 was more common among staff. Thirty-one staff tested positive, accounting for 74 percent of the cases identified during the initial testing, while 11 residents tested newly positive (26 percent of the cases). 
 
Sixty-four percent of facilities had only staff test positive at initial testing. In the majority of these (20 facilities, 87%), the new finding was a single positive resident or staff person (14 staff, 6 residents). 
 
In eight facilities, newly identified positive cases resulted in new outbreaks (two or more cases in residents or staff). Staff were involved more than residents (17 staff; 5 residents). Of these outbreaks, six have had no additional cases.

 

 

 

FIRST POSITIVE CASE IN CORRECTIONS SYSTEM
Also Tuesday, Gov. Justice announced that, for the first time, an inmate at one of West Virginia’s correctional facilities tested positive for COVID-19.

The positive case was found in a 62-year-old male inmate at Huttonsville Correctional Center in Randolph County. The Governor also announced that additional testing would be performed at the facility as a precautionary measure.

“We’ve got to be prepared to run to the fire,” Gov. Justice said. “We know this disease is with us. We’ve had wonderful blessings that we’ve not had an issue in our jail system. But we knew it was probably coming and, now that it’s here, we’re trying to run to this fire and put it out as quickly as possible.”

 

 

 

STATE RECEIVES REMDESIVIR SHIPMENT
Additionally Tuesday, Gov. Justice announced that the State of West Virginia has received a shipment of the drug Remdesivir from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. 

The drug is produced by Gilead and was donated to the State for use in critically ill COVID-19 patients from West Virginia.

“I want to personally thank our President for allowing us to get some and have some of this potentially life-saving drug,” Gov. Justice said.

 

 

 

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM FUNDING STILL AVAILABLE
Gov. Justice also offered a reminder that the United States Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program is still taking applications.

The funds are delivering much needed financial relief to small businesses across West Virginia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s still open and if you haven’t applied, I urge you to do so,” Gov. Justice said. “If you could possibly qualify, but you’re not sure, or you don’t know quite how to fill out the form, call them and ask them to help you through the whole process for how you have to fill out the application.

 

 

 

GOV. JUSTICE THANKS LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENTS, LOCAL HEALTH OFFICERS
Gov. Justice took time to thank local health departments and local health officers across West Virginia for their brave and important work throughout the pandemic.

“I can’t say enough about our local health officials,” Gov. Justice said. “They deserve all kinds of credit because they are our front line soldiers.

“You have done great work and I really appreciate you.”

 

 

 

Monday, May 18: Gov. Justice announces schedule for additional reopenings including malls, bars, casinos, and more

 

 

 

MALLS ADDED TO WEEK 4 REOPENINGS
Gov. Justice announced that indoor shopping malls would be allowed to reopen on Thursday, May 21, provided that all additional guidelines are followed to help keep West Virginians as safe as possible.

“From the standpoint of our specialty retail opening back up and our big box stores opening back up, naturally, our malls should be open,” Gov. Justice said. “Working with our medical experts, we now have additional guidelines on our indoor malls and we feel very comfortable with them.”

 

ADDITIONAL WEEK 5 REOPENINGS ANNOUNCED
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice added several businesses and entities to the list of Week 5 reopenings on Tuesday, May 26, including indoor and outdoor bars at 50% capacitymuseums and visitor centers, and zoos.

Gov. Justice had previously announced that state park cabins and lodges would also be able to reopen on Tuesday, May 26, for use by in-state residents only.

Also Monday, Gov. Justice announced that spas and massage businesses will be permitted to reopen on Saturday, May 30, provided that all additional guidelines are followed.

 

 

 

CASINOS & LIMITED VIDEO LOTTERIES
Additionally, Gov. Justice announced that limited video lottery retailers will also be permitted to reopen on Saturday, May 30, while all casinos across the state will be allowed to open their doors beginning on Friday, June 5, provided that all additional guidelines are followed.

Guidance documents will be provided on The Comeback page of the Governor’s Office website as soon as they become available.

“As we continue to go forward and as we continue to get closer and closer with dates, we’re monitoring our numbers all the time,” Gov. Justice said. “We very well could have to change these dates if our numbers change. But, hopefully, we won’t. Our numbers have been unbelievable and, if they stay this way, we’ll be able to open more and more.”

 

 

 

FITNESS AND TRAINING CENTERS OFFICIALLY REOPEN
Monday also marked the reopening date for fitness centers, gymnasiums, recreation centers, and sports training facilities for activities like gymnastics, cheerleading, dance, martial arts, and more.

 

ALL COUNTIES REMOVED FROM HOTSPOT LIST
Gov. Justice also announced that, with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources putting its new “High Alert Status” system in place to quickly identify specific areas in West Virginia that may be experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases, all counties that were still remaining on the list of community hotspots have now been removed from the list by executive order. This includes Monongalia, Marion, Harrison, Jefferson, and Berkeley counties.

“At this point in time, under the new system, we no longer have counties on the hotspot alert,” Gov. Justice said. “Our medical experts will be watching all of our 55 counties closely as we move forward with our new High Alert Status system.”

 

 

 

DHHR TESTING UPDATE
During his remarks Monday, Secretary Bill Crouch with the West Virginia DHHR reported that 2,388 individuals from several communities that have been identified as particularly susceptible to COVID-19 were tested over the weekend as part of the DHHR’s new initiative to test more minority and vulnerable populations throughout the state.

A breakdown of the drive-thru testing that was provided is as follows:

  • Berkeley County: 872 tests performed
  • Jefferson County: 748 tests performed
  • Mercer County: 364 tests performed
  • Raleigh County: 404 tests performed

 

 

 

NEW WEBSITE STREAMLINING CARES ACT APPLICATIONS FOR CITIES AND COUNTIES
Also, Gov. Justice announced that a new web portal is now available for city and county government officials across West Virginia to apply for grant funding through the federal CARES Act.

“I encourage all the cities and counties to apply,” Gov. Justice said. “As we get applications, we’ll work our way through them very quickly and find things they are qualified for and get those monies to you very quickly.”

Applications are available at grants.wv.gov. Interested parties can also call a helpline for more information by dialing 1-833-94-GRANT.

 

 

 

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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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