By Derek Tyson, The Welch News Editor
CHARLESTON, WV – Governor Jim Justice held another press conference today, moving to mandate the closure of barbershops, hair salons and nail salons across West Virginia.
Before today’s briefing, Governor Justice was met by health officials to be tested for COVID-19, after a recent photo was found of the Governor with the first positive test patient in the State.
“A picture was taken and someone had shown the picture to some of the people in my office,” said Justice. “The picture showed me with the gentleman that was the first positive in the state and his wife. It was an event where I was giving grants to our minority communities in Martinsburg. That was on February 15th so today when I came into the office, I was abruptly welcomed by one of our people that was going to do a coronavirus test on me.”
Justice recalled the meeting, saying he gave both the patient and his wife a big hug at the meeting. After testing, Justice self-quarantined in the Governor’s Mansion until the test could be processed. Happily, Justice said the test came back negative.
“Yesterday, when I left you, I went and called for our President,” said Justice. “Within ten seconds of calling, I was talking to the President. The primary thing we needed was to increase the supply of swabs and whatever we need to ramp up our ability to test.”
According to Justice, 45 minutes passed when they got the confirmation on the shipment of testing supplies. The State also purchased $100,000 worth of surgical masks to be distributed for first responder use and the DHHR would administer the rest. 275 protective suits were also purchased, totaling $600,000, to offer protection for health providers and first responders.
“We had many requests from our barbers saying we don’t feel comfortable being in that close contact with others,” said Justice, before announcing the decision to order closure across State barbershops, nail salons and hair salons.
Justice said the feeding programs for children across the State had encountered a few bumps, but ensured the supply lines will remain open to keep kids fed.
“We’re also not shutting down interstates or WV roads,” said Justice to dispel ongoing rumors.
Justice also made an Executive Order to provide unemployment benefits to those affected by COVID-19.
“The fastest way to file for benefits is online,” said Justice. “We’ve removed all the obstacles, such as a week waiting period, so visit www.workforce.wv.org.”
The last topic of discussion for Justice concerned funerals across the Mountain State.
“My last thing today is just this, this falls back more on the responsibilities of funeral homes and funeral directors,” said Justice. “When a loved one passes, we all have to have some level of mourning. Some families are deciding to go to just the immediate family. I would say to any and everyone I would say this has to be a family to family decision. This is not my decision to be making. We want to observe and protect the rights of all of those people.”
Justice feared that while people travel to pay their respects, funeral homes offer a ripe setting for transmission of the virus.
“Be careful and keep your distance,” said Justice. “Often times the elderly are paying their respects and we all know they are the most susceptible in this terrible situation. Try to do this at this time in a really safe manner. We’re trying to keep everyone apart as much as we can.”
Governor Justice once again urged people to take care of the neighborly in their area. “Let’s embrace this moment and use our power of staying separated,” said Justice. “Many will die if we do not do this. Watch on the tv what’s going in areas that didn’t react like we did. We must remain West Virginia strong.”