West Virginia Week in Review - September 26, 2020












Gov. Justice announces County Alert map updated to match School Alert map




On Friday, Gov. Jim Justice and West Virginia Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh announced that the County Alert System map, provided throughout the week on the DHHR’s COVID-19 Dashboard (Click "County Alert System" tab) has been updated to match the two-metric color-coding methodology used in the School Alert System map; the official 5 p.m. Saturday map update by the WVDE that determines the level of scholastic, athletic, and extracurricular activities permitted in each county for each particular week.

Last week, the School Alert System map began using two metrics to determine each county’s official color status for the week. One is infection rate – the number of people per 100,000 that had tested positive for the virus. The other is positivity rate – the percentage of all COVID-19 tests that are positive. The county’s more favorable metric determines their color designation for the following week.

Up until Friday’s update, the County Alert System was only using the infection rate in its color-coding system. Now, just like the WVDE’s system, both metrics will be used to determine the county’s color designation. The updated DHHR Dashboard now also includes the data and methodology used in determining each county’s results in the two metrics.




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 OR 8% or less positivity rate
RED: 25+ cases per 100,000 AND greater than 8% positivity rate




Gov. Justice announces WVDE now reporting school outbreaks online




During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that the West Virginia Department of Education has posted a list of schools across the state that have active outbreaks of COVID-19 on the WVDE website. A confirmed outbreak is described as two or more confirmed COVID-19 cases among students and/or staff from separate households, within a 14-day period, in a single classroom or core group.

The Current Outbreaks in Schools chart lists the school and county where the outbreak has been identified, the number of cases in that facility, the date when the outbreak was identified, and information about whether the outbreak led to full remote learning. The chart is based on information provided by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and will continue to be updated regularly. 




Gov. Justice activates “Aggressive Testing” efforts in all Red and Orange counties




During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that he has directed the West Virginia National Guard and West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to immediately begin working alongside local health departments to activate “Aggressive Testing” efforts in all Red and Orange counties across the state. The Governor explained that, as part of his Aggressive Testing efforts, any time a county moves to Red or Orange status, free testing will be set up in that county within 24 hours. Testing in these counties will be offered on a continual basis until their numbers improve. Any time a county moves to Gold status, at least one free testing event per week will be held in that county until their numbers improve.

On Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that he will provide additional CARES Act funding to the West Virginia National Guard and West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources in support of their efforts, working alongside local health departments, to continue ramping up the Governor’s Aggressive Testing program across the state.




Free community COVID-19 testing events are available to all residents in selected counties, 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.

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




Gov. Justice tested for COVID-19 live during press briefing




To further encourage all West Virginians to get tested and to highlight how easy the testing process is, Gov. Justice was tested for COVID-19 live on-air at the end of Wednesday’s briefing.

“Everybody, I hope you all get a lot of enjoyment out of this,” Gov. Justice said as members of the West Virginia National Guard prepared to administer the test.

After finishing the test, Gov. Justice added, “That was great, there’s nothing to it. It takes just about 10 seconds. There’s no pain, just a split second where you might want to sneeze. But other than that, there’s nothing to it. I would encourage everyone to go get tested.”

The Governor's test result came back negative.




Gov. Justice signs Executive Order highlighting agreement with private and Christian schools




On Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that the state has reached an agreement with several private and Christian schools. These schools have agreed to conduct a baseline test of all students and staff before they resume in-person instruction. These schools will also encourage all students and staff to consent to ongoing random testing in an effort to keep the community safe. These testing efforts will be funded through CARES Act dollars – the same money that funds all of the free testing events being held across West Virginia every day. The schools have also agreed to continue to follow all school-related safety procedures, such as the mandatory wearing of face coverings by students and staff. 

The Governor signed an executive order Wednesday reflecting this agreement.




West Virginia ranks 2nd in nation for personal income growth rate




On Friday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks to announce that a report, released yesterday by the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis, shows that West Virginia ranked 2nd out of all states across the country in personal income growth rate for the second quarter of 2020. West Virginia had a 69.9% increase in personal income from the first quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of 2020.




Gov. Justice, Tourism Office, and DNR announce $12 million in improvement projects coming to Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley Resort state parks




On Thursday, Gov. Justice joined West Virginia Tourism Office Commissioner Chelsea Ruby and Division of Natural Resources Director Steve McDaniel to announce $12 million in bond improvement projects at Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley Resort state parks. The event was held outside of the Blackwater Falls State Park Lodge, which Gov. Justice announced is set to receive nearly $4.7 million-worth of improvements; one of the most extensive renovations projects as part of the package. The overall $12 million investment covers a variety of projects at both parks, ranging from lodge and cabin renovations, campground expansions, and improvements to popular activities such as bike trails, tennis courts, Blackwater Falls’ world-class sled run, and much more.




US Department of Commerce invests $10.3 million to help small businesses across West Virginia amid pandemic




On Friday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded a $10.3 million EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to the West Virginia Economic Development Authority, Charleston, West Virginia, to capitalize and administer a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) that will provide critical capital financing to small businesses and entrepreneurs adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic across West Virginia.




Gov. Justice tours progress on I-70 Bridges Project in Wheeling




Gov. Justice took a tour of the construction zone for the I-70 Bridges Project during a visit to Wheeling on Tuesday. He joined several members of the West Virginia Division of Highways for the tour, including District 6 Engineer/Manager Tony Clark and other project leaders, who provided the Governor with a progress update. The project – which includes the replacement of the Fulton Bridge just east of the Wheeling Tunnel and the rehabilitation of another 25 bridges along I-70 – is one of the most significant projects of Gov. Justice’s Roads to Prosperity program.




Gov. Justice spotlights premiere of Game Changers virtual summit




Gov. Justice reminded West Virginians that Monday marked the live premiere the Game Changer initiative’s virtual summit on opioids and substance use disorder. Game Changer is aimed at tackling opioid and substance use, along with other issues impacting West Virginia’s youth. Monday's summit addressed these issues with several inspiring performances by the top trauma-informed speakers across the country.

“This is another tool that we have now in the toolbox to motivate kids to be leaders and examples of goodness,” Gov. Justice said. “I encourage our kids, teachers, and all West Virginians to watch.”

Rebroadcasts of the summit will be viewable on Sept. 22-24 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at events.wvgamechanger.com. Beginning Monday, Sept. 28, the summit will be available on-demand at the main Game Changer website.




Gov. Justice awards combined $880,000 for Civil Legal Services grant, John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program




On Thursday, Gov. Justice announced that he has awarded a combined total of $880,320.10 in grant funding to go toward a pair of programs supporting West Virginia’s justice system. Of the total amount, $850,000.00 has been awarded to Legal Aid of West Virginia, Inc. through a Civil Legal Services (CLS) grant. These funds will be used to support the provision of civil legal services in West Virginia to individuals whose income is at or below 125% of the federal poverty level. The remaining $30,320.10 has been awarded to 11 prosecuting attorneys and public defenders across West Virginia through the John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program. These funds will assist local prosecuting attorneys and public defenders with educational debt and increase the retention rates of qualified individuals in these fields throughout West Virginia.




Aged and Disabled Waiver program offers alternative care




The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bureau for Medical Services is offering to assist individuals receiving Medicaid who are currently living in nursing homes and those considering placement in nursing homes for home and community-based alternatives through the Aged and Disabled Waiver (ADW) program. The ADW program is an established alternative to nursing home care where waiver members receive services in their own homes and the local community. This allows members greater independence and increased choices compared to nursing home services. The program gives members the option of self-directing their services, which offers members greater choice and control over the services they receive.

DHHR’s Bureau for Medical Services will use funding made available through the federal CARES Act to expand access to the Aged and Disabled Waiver program. With the discretion of the West Virginia Legislature and the Governor, the program will utilize $6 million in reserve funding for Fiscal Year 2022 to fund 646 additional ADW slots. This $6 million investment qualifies for a $17 million federal match through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.




Superintendent Burch congratulates West Virginia’s 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools




On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) recognized three West Virginia schools as 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools. Kenna Elementary in Kanawha County; Panther Creek Elementary in Nicholas County; and Williamstown Elementary in Wood County all received the distinction as exemplary high performing schools. They join the ranks of 317 public schools nationwide that earned the coveted recognition this year. As National Blue Ribbon Schools, the three West Virginia elementary schools are among 9,000 to earn the award over the past 38 years. The USDE has issued nearly 10,000 awards during this time, and schools are eligible to be considered for a nomination again after a five-year period lapses. This year marks the second award for each of the schools as Kenna Elementary won in 2012; Panther Creek Elementary won in 2013 and Williamstown Elementary won in 2008.




Tourism Office and Division of Forestry release fall foliage map for leaf-peeping






West Virginia remains among national leaders in 2020 Census response rate




As of Friday afternoon, West Virginia is now alone atop the national standings with the #1 best Census response rate in the country. To date, 99.9 percent of West Virginians have been counted. For perspective, during the last Census in 2010, the state’s final response rate was just 74 percent.

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.




Also this week:

Supplemental payment for Low Income Energy Assistance Program recipients (WVDHHR)

Virtual conference on Recovery-Focused Housing set for end of September (WVDHHR)

WVDNR continues work on Wildlife Education Center in Kanawha County

WVDEP REAP staff removes hundred of tires and litter from Elk River

WVDEP holds annual Adopt-A-Highway cleanup




Contact Information

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


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

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304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

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