West Virginia Week in Review - November 14, 2020

11/14/2020

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Gov. Justice broadens statewide indoor face covering requirement
With COVID-19 case numbers continuing to set record highs in West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice announced Friday that he has issued an executive order, amending and broadening his Statewide Indoor Face Covering Requirement. The new order requires all West Virginians age 9 and older to wear a face covering at all times inside all indoor public places. This differs from the Governor’s initial indoor face covering requirement, which allowed masks to be removed in such places if adequate social distancing could be maintained. Under the new order, that exception no longer exists. The requirement does not apply to anyone who has trouble breathing or anyone who is otherwise unable to remove their own face covering without assistance. It also does not apply to anyone inside a restaurant and actively consuming food or beverages, anyone is inside a closed room by themselves, or inside one’s residence.
Additionally, the new order requires that all businesses and organizations that invite the public into their facilities must post adequate signage advising guests of the requirement and are also responsible for enforcing the requirement to ensure it is being followed.

For children ages 2 years old through 8 years old, face coverings are not required. However, it is recommended that parents or guardians use their best judgment as to when to assist their children, ages 2 through 8, with wearing a face covering.

The original Statewide Indoor Face Covering Requirement was established by executive order on July 7.

Friday evening, Gov. Justice issued a statement on the updated face covering requirements.
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Gov. Justice announces adjustments to school and athletics calendars
On Friday, Gov. Justice announced that he has issued an executive order, postponing the start date for all youth winter sports teams and leagues. The order prohibits all youth winter sports teams and leagues, whether school-sanctioned or otherwise, including but not limited to basketball, swimming, wrestling, and cheerleading, from bringing players and/or spectators together into a common area within West Virginia for practices, games, or any other type of competition until no sooner than Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Any winter sports teams that have begun to practice must cease immediately.
Gov. Justice announced that, at the request of the West Virginia Bandmasters, who oversee all the public school bands across the state, all band festivals scheduled for this coming spring have been canceled. The Governor also announced the cancellation of all concert band festivals for the rest of this year.
Gov. Justice issued an executive order, extending Thanksgiving break for all public and private schools in West Virginia by an additional three days.

“We all know that families are going to come together over Thanksgiving, and as families come together, we all know the probability of more of a spread is right at our fingertips again,” Gov. Justice said. “So, from Thursday of Thanksgiving, until the next Thursday, no one will go to school.”

Public and private schools in all 55 counties may resume in-person instruction on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.

“That will give us at least a seven-day period that the medical experts tell us will be a big help in making sure any potential spread from Thanksgiving is contained before it becomes a problem,” Gov. Justice said.
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Gov. Justice, WVDHHR release safety guidance for holiday celebrations
On Wednesday, Dr. Ayne Amjad, State Health Officer and Commissioner of the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, announced that the Department of Health and Human Resources has now released guidance for safe holiday celebrations and holiday travel ahead of the coming fall and winter holiday season.

“If you are going to see your family, we do recommend a few things, such as to only stick around immediate family members,” Dr. Amjad said. “A few other things to mention are, if you recently had COVID-19 and you may still be symptomatic, or if you think you’ve been around someone who may have COVID-19, do not go around any family members.”
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Gov. Justice issues executive order concerning testing of nursing home employees
On Friday, Gov. Justice issued an executive order, requiring that all doctors, nurses, staff, and employees working at nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout the state be tested for COVID-19 twice a week. Under the leadership of Gov. Justice, West Virginia was the first state in the nation to order the full testing of all residents and staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Later, the CDC sent a letter to all 50 states, calling on them to follow West Virginia’s lead by focusing their COVID-19 testing efforts on nursing homes and other vulnerable communities. The new twice-weekly staff testing requirement will remain in place until rescinded or adjusted by further executive order.
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Gov. Justice hosts virtual Veterans Day celebration
Gov. Justice was joined by West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance Secretary Dennis Davis and West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. James Hoyer as he hosted a virtual ceremony Wednesday, celebrating Veterans Day in West Virginia. The ceremony featured a performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by the Cabell Midland High School Marching Knights, the Pledge of Allegiance by Soldiers with the West Virginia National Guard, as well as a prayer by Rev. Ray Stonestreet; a former Marine and State Trooper.

“There are 137,000 Veterans in the state of West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “When I think about this day, I think of all those that are serving and protecting us right now. I think about a state that was always first to volunteer and first to serve. I think about the symbol of what today really is; the symbol of freedom and liberty for the entire world."
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Gov. Justice announces $43 million to help thousands of businesses with cost of providing healthcare
During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that, at his direction, West Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jim Doddrill has approved $43 million in premium credits on all small and large group healthcare plans of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield in West Virginia. The credit will help nearly 3,000 small and large West Virginia businesses with the cost of offering group healthcare plans in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. The Governor added that the total insurance premium relief that has been implemented for West Virginia consumers and businesses due to COVID-19 is now more than $140 million.
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Gov. Justice celebrates progress on vaccine
On Monday, Gov. Justice celebrated that early reports on a COVID-19 vaccine, currently being developed by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, indicate that the vaccine may be performing better than expected. According to Pfizer, the vaccine proved to be effective in more than 90% of the first 94 test subjects who were infected with the coronavirus, vastly exceeding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s minimum expectation of 50% efficacy for a COVID-19 vaccine.
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Gov. Justice reminds West Virginians of COVID-19 free testing events
Gov. Justice provided an overview of the 46 counties that have upcoming free testing events scheduled for the near future through the Governor’s Aggressive Testing initiative. This testing is available to all residents, including asymptomatic individuals. Proof of insurance is not required. Attendees should bring identification, such as a driver’s license or proof of address, to help in returning test results. Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Each county reaching Red or Orange status in the DHHR's County Alert System map (Click "County Alert System" tab) is required to set up at least one free testing site within the same day. Each county reaching Gold status is required to set up at least one free testing site within 48 hours.
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Gov. Justice announces $6 million to combat drug crisis
Gov. Justice announced Tuesday a $6 million federal grant that will help West Virginia strengthen cutting-edge strategies that target addiction through prevention, intervention, and diversion. The funding comes from the Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Site-based Program (COSSAP) through the Justice and Community Services section of the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security.
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First Lady Cathy Justice presents Rhododendron Award to West Virginia National Guardsman who ensured cadets could triumph through pandemic
First Lady Cathy Justice presented her Rhododendron Award Thursday to West Virginia National Guard SGM Frank Leone. The First Lady’s Rhododendron Award recognizes individuals in West Virginia who have demonstrated goodness and worked for the betterment of their communities. In particular, this award seeks to recognize the “unsung heroes” throughout West Virginia, whose work has made a significant difference in the lives of others. SGM Leone managed a laptop distribution plan that delivered laptops to Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy (MCA) students that were sent home due to COVID-19. His efforts ensured MCA cadets could complete essential coursework virtually and continue to work toward their graduation requirements.
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First Lady Cathy Justice unveils official 2020 Limited Edition Christmas Ornament
First Lady Justice joined West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History Curator Randall Reid-Smith Thursday to unveil her official 2020 Limited Edition Christmas Ornament. This year’s ornament was made by Huntington artist Cassie Mace. It celebrates the longstanding tradition of quilting in West Virginia and across America. The 2020 Christmas Ornament is a quilted, square-shaped piece that measures four-by-four inches. Only 500 ornaments were quilted. The ornaments are available for purchase at the Culture Center in Charleston and at the Tamarack in Beckley for $22 each.
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Gov. Justice offers condolences on loss of former State Supreme Court Justice
On Monday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to offer his condolences on the loss of former West Virginia State Supreme Court Justice Richard Neely, who passed away yesterday at the age of 79. Neely served as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1971-1973 and then continued his service as Justice and, later, Chief Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals from 1973-1995.
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Governor’s Highway Safety Program announces 2020 “Click It or Ticket” campaign
As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches and more drivers hit the roads, the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program is reminding all drivers of the importance of seat belt use. The WV GHSP is joining the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the 2020 Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement mobilization that runs from Nov. 16-29, 2020. Along with other law enforcement agencies nationwide, West Virginia law enforcement officers will be out in full force, ticketing seat belt violators who are caught traveling without a buckled seat belt or transporting unrestrained children. Aimed at enforcing seat belt use to help keep all vehicle occupants safe, the national seat belt campaign runs concurrent with this busy travel season.
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West Virginia Department of Education releases certified enrollment
More than 9,000 fewer students have enrolled in West Virginia public schools for the 2020-21 school year. The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) reported the latest enrollment during the November 2020, meeting of the West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE). The decrease in students is mostly attributed to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the school system. The decreased enrollment represents an estimated $42.7 million loss in school funding for the 2021-22 school year, which translates into the potential elimination of hundreds of positions for professional personnel (including classroom teachers) and service personnel.
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I-79 Exit 99, a major Roads To Prosperity project, moves forward after opening of new exit ramp
Leaders with the West Virginia Department of Transportation announced that a new exit ramp has opened at the I-79 Exit 99 project in Weston, marking a significant milestone in this major Roads To Prosperity project. On Monday, Nov. 9, construction crews officially opened the ramp to traffic exiting I-79 SB at Exit 99. Two new signals are now in use on Route 33. One is at the bottom of the new southbound exit ramp and one at the bottom of the northbound exit ramp.
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167th Airman makes a call, saves a life

Airman 1st Class Julianne Arnold is fighting COVID-19 one phone call at a time and a fateful phone call last month likely saved one woman’s life. Arnold, a “port dawg” or air transportation specialist for the 167th Airlift Wing, has stayed busy since completing technical training last December. In August, she volunteered to join the West Virginia National Guard’s epidemiology team, supporting the Jefferson County Health Department with its COVID-19 contact tracing efforts. On October 15, Arnold made her daily call to an elderly woman she had been speaking to for several days. But that day, the woman seemed confused, in pain and then unresponsive during their call. Arnold called 911. Emergency services made it to the woman’s home and she was transported to the nearest intensive care unit.

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Gov. Justice encourages all West Virginians to get a flu shot
Once again this week, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to remind and encourage all West Virginians to get their flu vaccine. According to health officials, everyone 6 months and older should receive this vaccine.

Locate a flu vaccine near you through the DHHR website.
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Also this week:

Tamarack reopens after COVID-19 closure

Office of Medical Cannabis Offers Virtual Industry Training Course

WV Board of Education issues State of Emergency for Lincoln County

Medical Cannabis processors announced

Keeping ConnectED: Importance of school counselors during the pandemic
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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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