CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia health leaders and other officials today for his latest daily press briefing regarding the State’s COVID-19 response.
“SAFER AT HOME” ORDER
In light of West Virginia’s success at keeping the cumulative rate of positive COVID-19 tests under 3 percent and in concert with the Governor’s recently-announced plan to reopen the economy – Gov. Justice announced today that he will soon lift the “Stay At Home” order imposed statewide last month, replacing it with a “Safer At Home” order.
The new order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, May 4.
“‘Safer At Home’ still strongly encourages all West Virginians to stay at home when not performing essential tasks, but no longer mandates them to stay at home,” Gov. Justice said. “Our people have been knocking it out of the park, but we need to keep it that way. You should still stay home if you have any symptoms or have come in contact with someone who has the virus.”
During his daily media briefing Thursday, the Governor highlighted that the state’s percentage of positive COVID-19 tests has steadily dropped in recent days. The cumulative rate of positive tests has also decreased to 2.51 percent – far below all bordering states and the national average of over 17 percent.
“You’ll remember that way back in the early days of March, I came to you and I said, ‘It’s not time to panic, it’s time to be cautious. It’s not time to be fearful, it’s time to be smart. It’s not time to be weak, it’s time to be West Virginia strong,’” Gov. Justice said.
“Just look what you’ve done,” Gov. Justice continued. “You have absolutely not panicked, you’ve been cautious. You’ve not been fearful, you’ve been smart. You’ve not been weak, you’ve been West Virginia strong.
“You’ve led the nation. I could not be more proud. Now let’s just keep it up.”
The Governor’s “Safer At Home” order provides additional new guidelines for individuals, businesses, public gatherings, and more.
The new order will be modified each week throughout the duration of “The Comeback” reopening plan.
“THE COMEBACK” UPDATE
Gov. Justice also issued a reminder that today marked the beginning of “Week 1” in his multi-phased plan to reopen businesses across West Virginia. In this phase, hospitals offering elective procedures, outpatient health care operations, and daycares are permitted to resume services, provided that they follow all necessary safety guidelines issued by the State.
The Governor also announced that, today, the Department of Health and Human Resources issued guidance on the testing of staff at daycare centers statewide.
The “Week 2” phase of reopenings are scheduled to begin this coming Monday, May 4. This includes small businesses with 10 or fewer employees, restaurants with takeaway service or outdoor dining options, religious entities and funeral homes, and professional service businesses such as hair salons, nail salons, barbershops, and pet grooming.
Several additional types of businesses will be permitted to reopen from Weeks 3-6. The opening schedule for these businesses will be based upon the recommendations of state medical experts and upon testing data available at that time.
Today, Gov. Justice announced that the list of businesses included in the “Week 3” phase of reopenings will be announced on Monday, May 4. These businesses would be scheduled to reopen on Monday, May 11.
HORSE RACING SCHEDULED TO RESUME WITHOUT SPECTATORS
Also today, the Governor announced that horse racing will be able to resume, without spectators, on Thursday, May 14.
“It takes a couple weeks of active training and conditioning before it’s safe for the horses,” Gov. Justice said. “They will be starting back very, very soon in preparation for us to have spectatorless horse racing.”
WEST VIRGINIANS URGED TO PARTICIPATE IN FOOD DRIVE
Additionally the Governor announced that the United Ways of West Virginia are holding a Country Roads Food Drive on Tuesday, May 5, to feed families in West Virginia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I encourage you, if you would, to try to help, to try to call in to these people, and to try to do anything and everything you possibly can,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s great stuff when you see, over and over, West Virginians stepping up and doing all the good stuff that they do everyday.
“We’re trying, every way in the world, to feed our kids and our elderly and those that are maybe having a really tough time right now. West Virginians know that we absolutely, surely to goodness, have to take care of people that are really having a rough go.”