CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice joined State health leaders at the Capitol Complex in Charleston today for a virtual press briefing to once again update the public on the many measures being taken in the interest of protecting the public from the spread of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Gov. Jim Justice again reported Thursday that positive test results for COVID-19 in the state remain under four percent, but cautioned residents to “not relax” because West Virginia remains as “the highest risk state in the country and most susceptible” for potential spread of the coronavirus.
“It’s easy to see these numbers come out and see that West Virginia is doing really good, and it would be easy to relax,” Gov. Justice stated. “But I’m telling you don’t go to sleep at the switch now.
“What we are doing is working, but it’s only working because we’re taking it seriously. I’m proud of each and every one of you so keep following the guidelines, stay at home, social distance, practice good hygiene and when the time comes, and it will, we’ll cross the finish line together as West Virginians.”
Just prior to the start of the briefing, Sundale Nursing Home in Morgantown confirmed with the Department of Health and Human Resources a second death of one of its residents, an 89-year-old female.
“This is our fifth death in West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s a sad event. We send our thoughts and prayers to this individual and their family.”
EXECUTIVE ORDER ISSUED
Gov. Justice also said he has issued an Executive Order mandating that all private and public and private golf courses follow proper cleaning protocols and take additional steps to ensure proper social distancing, including allowing just one individual per golf cart except for individuals that live together.
“I know it’s a hassle but I’m just trying to keep you safe, I’m trying to keep all of us safe.”
The Executive Order also:
• allows a municipality to delay an election previously scheduled by municipal charter for any date prior to June 1, 2020.
• allows a municipality to hold its election on the same date as the state primary election scheduled for June 9, 2020, if the county has the time and resources to accommodate it.
• suspends certain statutory regulations relating to the West Virginia Board of Examiners in Counseling.
• suspends certain statutory regulations relating to the deadlines for license renewals and fee payments to the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration.
MORE DATA BEING POSTED FOR PUBLIC
“Yesterday I told you about the reporting of additional data by DHHR with the help of the National Guard and beginning today on our coronavirus website dashboard we will begin reporting the health status of COVID-19 positive patients,” Gov. Justice said.
Dr. Clay Marsh, COVID-19 Czar, said information on the DHHR website is now being updated twice a day, at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., and that “we will continue to add to it” so that the public has a “variety of ways to be informed.”
Dr. Marsh also renewed his call for residents to remain “diligent and vigilant” as the projected peak date for the surge of COVID-19 in West Virginia currently remains as April 15.
He said after the peak date passes, citizens can’t become “complacent” and will need to keep practicing the protocols and guidelines like they have been doing for the past several weeks.
MULTI-AGENCY PUSH TO ESTABLISH ALTERNATIVE CARE SITE
Gov. Justice applauded Thursday’s team effort that delivered multiple truckloads of hospital beds and other needed equipment from the former Fairmont Regional Medical Center to St. Francis Hospital in Charleston, for a planned alternative care site to expand West Virginia’s capabilities.
The Division of Highways, State Police, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation together supplied a half-dozen trucks. Personnel from those agencies and the West Virginia National Guard loaded up the equipment in Fairmont and helped offload it at the Charleston site. FEMA Region III also assisted this effort.
“This was truly a whole-of-government effort, and that’s so important,” Gov. Justice said. “There are times when agencies don’t pull the rope together, but right here we’ve got all these agencies are working together, and I’m really, really proud of them.”
GOVERNOR URGES CITIZENS TO BE WARY OF TAX SCAM
“The IRS and WV State Tax Department are urging taxpayers, especially our seniors, to be on the lookout for scam attempts regarding COVID-19,” Gov. Justice warned. “The IRS and State Tax Department will not call you asking to verify or provide your financial information in order to receive a quicker refund or an economic impact payment.
“Please also be wary of emails, text messages, websites, and social media attempts to request money or personal information.”
For more information please visit TAX.WV.GOV.
NATIONAL GUARD CONTINUES SUPPORTING MULTIPLE EFFORTS
From the West Virginia National Guard:
Since beginning operations in support of the state’s COVID-19 response 27 days ago, the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) has completed 280 missions through our four lines of effort of operationalizing of the event, stabilizing the population, providing logistical movement of critical supplies and conducting data analysis to combat the virus. Currently, nearly 560 members of the (WVNG) are on duty serving the citizens of the State of West Virginia.
Since our last update, we have increased our number of personnel supporting the Workforce West Virginia mission to 21 and are working on standing up a third call center to address the growing need for processing unemployment claims. By next week, our service members will be fully trained and able to begin processing those claims, and in addition, more personnel will be added to assist with answering calls to meet increasing demands for assistance.
The WVNG, in collaboration with the West Virginia Office of Technology and Workforce West Virginia, are evaluating new technologies that will enhance customer service and create efficiencies in claims processing to further address the current backlog and streamline future processing for West Virginians.
RESPONDING TO CENSUS VITAL FOR WEST VIRGINIA
“Again, I ask all West Virginians to take five minutes and respond to the Census,” Gov. Justice said. “Go online and fill it out right now at 2020census.gov or by calling 1-844-330-2020. The Census will also be mailing forms to those households that have not responded. Your response is vital to West Virginia. You’ve got to be counted, federal dollars for our state are so important. Please respond.”