CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia health leaders and other officials Friday for his latest daily press briefing regarding the State’s COVID-19 response.
HATFIELD-MCCOY TRAILS REOPENING
On Friday, Gov. Justice announced that as part of his statewide reopening plan, West Virginia Strong – The Comeback, the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System will be permitted to open, with limitations, on Thursday, May 21, 2020.
“I’ve gotten an awful lot of feedback from a lot of different people, from our tourism people, to medical experts, to people from other states,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve weighed a lot of different factors.
“We know how important the Hatfield-McCoy Trails to us, economically, in the southern part of the state,” Gov. Justice continued. “I am happy about reopening the trails but I am also concerned. There’s going to be limitations and we’re going to enforce the limitations as best as we possibly can.”
All public buildings and public restrooms along the trail system will remain closed until further notice.
The trails themselves will be open for riding, provided that riders follow the following safety guidelines:
•PPE: Riders are encouraged to wear face masks or face shields while stopped. All riders, by law, must wear a helmet while riding.
•Self screening: Riders are encouraged to self screen for COVID-19 symptoms by CDC guidelines.
•Temperature checks: Riders are encouraged to take their temperature prior to arriving at the trails. If their temperature measures over 100 degrees, the riders are not permitted to enter the trails.
•Sick rider: Any rider or visitor who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms must leave the trails immediately and seek medical care and/or COVID-19 testing, per CDC guidelines.
•Limit groups: Riders are prohibited from congregating on the trails.
•Physical distancing: Practice proper social distancing, including a minimum of six feet of distance where practical and safe to do so.
•Shared vehicles: Riders are discouraged from sharing a UTV, ATV, or off-road dirt bike with anyone outside their immediate group or party.
•Shared equipment: Riders are discouraged from sharing safety equipment or masks.
Additional safety guidance available on governor.wv.gov
“Anyone who’s coming to our trails from out-of-state, we expect you to respect us,” Gov. Justice said. “We want you to protect yourself but we need to protect ourselves. We will watch this like a hawk.
“We cannot stay closed forever. We’ve got to try to reopen. We’ve got to someway, somehow try to live with this disease. We’re going to be ready to take over if things take a turn for the worse. But we’ve got to recognize that we’ve got to move forward.”
EXECUTIVE ORDER FILED FOR UPCOMING WEEK 3 REOPENINGS
Gov. Justice officially signed and filed the Executive Order that will allow businesses in the “Week 3” phase of the Governor’s reopening plan to resume operations if they so choose.
Businesses that are part of the Week 3 reopenings include drive-in movie theaters and wellness centers operated by or with West Virginia Licensed Health Care providers.
“THE COMEBACK” SCHEDULE REMINDER
Also today, the Governor offered a reminder about the current reopening schedule for The Comeback plan:
•Week 1 – Thursday, April 30 (underway)
•Week 2 – Monday, May 4 (underway)
•Week 3 – Monday, May 11
•Week 4 – Monday, May 18
•Week 5 – Monday, May 25
•Week 6 – Monday, June 1
This schedule may be altered if changes to the timeline are deemed necessary for the safety of West Virginians.
The Governor also provided a reminder that on this coming Monday, May 11, businesses included in the Week 4 phase of reopenings will be announced so they have adequate time to prepare to resume operations while following all additional guidelines.
Gov. Justice’s Safer At Home order also remains in effect at this time.
Once again Friday, Gov. Justice provided an overview of statewide data on COVID-19, highlighting that West Virginia’s growth rate of positive tests dropped to 1.8 percent.
The Governor also pointed out that the state cumulative rate of positive tests decreased, yet again, to 2.20 percent – the state’s lowest figure in that category since before the pandemic arrived in West Virginia.
DHHR PROVIDES UPDATE ON COVID-19 IMPACT AMONG AFRICAN AMERICAN POPULATION
After announcing earlier this week that the newly-established COVID-19 Advisory Commission on African American Disparities would begin targeted testing in several African American communities across the state, State Health Officer and Bureau for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Cathy Slemp announced that additional data has come in on the effects of COVID-19 among the state’s African American population.
“We actually have several counties that have a higher percent of cases among African Americans than their population of African Americans is,” Dr. Slemp said. “Those counties include Berkeley, Jefferson, Marion, McDowell, Mercer, Monongalia, and Putnam.
“We think it’s important to explore this data further and work with these populations,” Dr. Slemp continued.
Dr. Slemp announced that additional data on the impact of COVID-19 in the state’s African American communities will be posted on Coronavirus.wv.gov as soon as it becomes available.
CITY AND COUNTY GUIDANCE
Additionally, the Governor announced that he hopes to be able to provide guidance for cities and counties to use to apply for funding from the CARES Act by this Friday.
“We have been in constant communication with all of our cities and counties and the associations that represent them, “I know they need our help.” Gov. Justice said, pointing out that more clarity may become available once the United States House of Representatives returns to session.