West Virginia Week in Review - September 19, 2020












Gov. Justice adds “Gold” category to color-coding scale; introduces several adjustments to School Alert System map




Gov. Jim Justice announced Tuesday the addition of a new color – gold – to the School Alert System map; which determines the level of scholastic, athletic, and extracurricular activities permitted in each county for each particular week. Counties in gold have 10.0–14.9 cases of COVID-19 infection per 100,000 people. Up until now, counties with these numbers were categorized as orange. However, in an emergency meeting that lasted into the evening Monday, Gov. Justice and state health experts determined that the orange category was too broad.

“Our original plan was put together with a considerable amount of thought,” said Gov. Justice, noting that White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx praised the map as “remarkable” during her recent trip to West Virginia, highlighting the plan as a leading practice nationwide for all states to emulate. 




During Monday’s emergency meeting, Gov. Justice and state health experts also concluded that counties should be evaluated on two metrics when their color designation is being determined. Up until now, each county’s color was based solely on that county’s infection rate; the number of people per 100,000 that had tested positive for the virus.

As a result, the Governor announced that, in addition to infection rate, counties will also be evaluated on their positivity rate, with factors negative tests into the equation. Going forward, during each official Saturday map update, counties will be judged on both their infection rate and their positivity rate. The county’s more favorable metric will be used to determine their color designation for the following week.

The updated thresholds are as follows:
GREEN: 3 and fewer cases per 100,000 OR 3% or less positivity rate
YELLOW: 3.1 – 9.9 cases per 100,000 OR 4% or less positivity rate
GOLD: 10 – 14.9 cases per 100,000 OR 5% or less positivity rate
ORANGE: 15 – 24.9 cases per 100,000
RED: 25+ cases per 100,000

Updated protocols for education, athletic, and extracurricular activities on the new color scale are outlined on the Department of Education’s website.




Gov. Justice: “West Virginia Model” continues to set national standard




During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently adopted their own color-coded system to assist states in determining whether children should be in-school or they should be utilizing a remote learning model of instruction. Gov. Justice noted that White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx praised the West Virginia Model as “remarkable” during her recent trip to West Virginia, highlighting the plan as a leading practice nationwide for all states to emulate.

Like the West Virginia Model, the CDC uses a five-color system to represent community spread for particular regions. Like the West Virginia Model, the CDC’s colors are based on metrics such as the number of new cases per 100,000 population on a 14-day rolling average as well as the overall percentage of positive tests.




Gov. Justice commits $6 million to support child care providers and families




During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that he has committed $6 million of CARES Act funding to ensure the continued support of child care providers and families through the end of the year. This new funding will aid essential workers across the state, providing support to 3,400 families each month through the end of December 2020.​




Gov. Justice announces plan for testing and monitoring college students




Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources have worked together on a proposal for how to count college students that have COVID-19 and are in isolation. Part of the plan involves making sure students are being properly tested and, if positive, monitored to ensure the safety of their communities, while also providing a pathway to improving case numbers in those same communities. WVU has been working together with the Monongalia County Health Department to establish a facility, with appropriate security and monitoring in place, where COVID-positive students who live on-campus can be safely isolated.

Health experts who participated in Wednesday’s briefing said that, under the proposed plan, all of the COVID-positive students utilizing these safe and secure facilities would be able to be counted as a single case for the purposes of the color-coded County Alert Map system.




Gov. Justice hosts emergency meeting to discuss potential adjustments to color-coded county map system




During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that he would convene an emergency meeting Monday afternoon between state health, education, athletics experts, and more to discuss potential changes to the color-coded School Re-Entry Map system, which determines the level of scholastic, athletic, and extracurricular activities permitted in each county for that particular week. This past Saturday’s map included eight counties in either orange or red status, which, in its current format, means schools must utilize a fully-virtual instruction model, with no in-person instruction or extracurricular activities.

After the briefing, Gov. Justice met with these experts at the Governor’s Mansion to discuss a potential fifth color and numerous other possible adjustments to the current system. The meeting, which included leaders from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, West Virginia Department of Education, West Virginia National Guard, West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh, and other members of the Governor’s staff, went on well into the evening as experts discussed a multitude of possibilities.




Gov. Justice presents additional fleet of meal delivery vehicles to support West Virginia senior nutrition meal delivery programs




For the second time in five weeks, Gov. Justice unveiled a fleet of brand-new meal delivery vehicles that will allow more seniors across West Virginia to receive fresh meals in their homes through the State’s senior nutrition meal delivery programs. The Governor debuted the new vehicles during an unveiling event Tuesday at Thornhill Ford near Chapmanville. A total of 27 new 2020 Ford Explorer meal delivery vehicles will be used by County Aging Programs for Meals on Wheels Delivery across West Virginia, providing a much-needed boost to senior nutrition efforts by replacing aging vehicles currently in use.




Gov. Justice announces continued decline in West Virginia unemployment numbers




On Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the month of August dropped more than one full percentage point to 8.9 percent. August marked the fourth consecutive month of improving unemployment numbers in West Virginia. During additional remarks Wednesday, WorkForce West Virginia Acting Director Scott Adkins reported that West Virginia has now dispersed more than $1.5 billion dollars in unemployment benefits since mid-March.




Gov. Justice orders U.S. and State flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg




Gov. Justice issued a proclamation Friday, in accordance with President Donald J. Trump’s proclamation, ordering that all United States and West Virginia flags on all State-owned facilities throughout the state be displayed at half-staff, beginning immediately and continuing until the day of interment for United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

"Cathy and I send our deepest sympathies and prayers to the family and loved ones of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg," Gov. Justice said. "Her dedication to public service left a profound impact on our country and she will be greatly missed."




Gov. Justice signs Executive Order placing restrictions on travel sports teams




On Tuesday, Gov. Justice signed an Executive Order which prohibits travel sports teams from participating in practices, games, or other competitions within counties designated as gold, orange, or red in the County Alert System. This restriction does not apply to teams and leagues that play in defined, relatively small geographic areas, such as within a single county or a few counties in the state of West Virginia. Additionally, the order decreases the social gathering limit for outdoor activity gatherings in gold, orange, or red counties from 25 people to 10 people.




Gov. Justice announces West Virginia National Guard to host regional disaster training exercise in 2021




Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that the West Virginia National Guard will host Vigilant Guard 2021 – a major regional full-scale disaster training exercise – next August at the Hobet All Hazards Training Center. The goal of Vigilant Guard is to improve the coordination, operational relationships, and response plans of agencies across West Virginia and several other nearby states in preparation for emergencies and catastrophic events. The nine-day exercise will be conducted in coordination with United States Northern Command, the National Guard Bureau, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).




Gov. Justice announces additional free COVID-19 testing sites, encourages first responders and essential workers to get tested




On Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that, at his direction, the West Virginia National Guard would hold a free testing event that day at the Kanawha County Health Department until 8 p.m. The testing was available to everyone, but the Governor specifically encouraged first responders and essential workers to attend.

The Governor also announced that he has directed the National Guard to stand up free testing sites in all red, orange, and gold counties immediately. Additional times and locations will be announced as soon as they are available.

Further sites will open in Cabell, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Marion, Mingo, and Ohio counties next week.

Click here to view all locations, dates, times and more details




Gov. Justice announces Game Changer virtual summit to premiere live Monday morning




Thursday, Gov. Jim Justice announced that the Game Changer initiative’s virtual summit on opioids and substance use disorder will premiere live next Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The virtual summit will be accessible online at events.wvgamechanger.com. The summit, which will feature live on-location performances from across the country by several nationally known trauma-informed speakers and one of the country’s most engaging youth and teen emcees, will be available to all of West Virginia’s 157,000 middle and high school students.




Gov. Justice signs National Assisted Living Week proclamation




On Monday, in honor of the West Virginians living and working in assisted living facilities, Gov. Justice announced that he has issued a proclamation, officially designating this week – Sept. 13, 2020, through Sept. 19, 2020 – as National Assisted Living Week.




WVDOT accepts bids for Berkeley Springs Bypass, Colonel Ruby Bradley Bridge, other projects




The West Virginia Division of Highways continues to hold bid lettings remotely to move projects forward while protecting the public from COVID-19. Of the seven projects which received bids in the September 15, 2020 letting, four were Roads to Prosperity bond projects. The West Virginia Division of Highways is reviewing the bids and hopes to award contracts for these projects soon.




West Virginia’s elk herd adds 15 calves in 2020




West Virginia’s elk restoration project is wrapping up another successful summer at the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan County and the state’s herd continues to grow with the addition of at least 15 calves. Over the summer, wildlife managers for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources were able to confirm the births of about 15 calves, which brings the total elk population to about 85.




West Virginia tied for top response rate in the 2020 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.

As of Friday, West Virginia boasts the 2nd-best U.S. Census response rate in the country with 99.6 percent of West Virginians counted. This trails national leader Idaho by merely 0.1 percent.

Be counted in minutes: 2020census.gov.




Also this week:

West Virginia State Historic Preservation Survey and Planning Grants available

Department of Administration agencies receive national recognition for Excellence in Financial Reporting

West Virginia hosts Virtual Prevention Summit (WVDHHR)

First wild bobwhite quail chicks in 50 years hatch at Tomblin WMA

Sharpe Hospital passes CMS Health Survey




Contact Information

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


Office of the Governor
State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E
Charleston, WV 25305

Office Phone:
304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

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