CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia health leaders and other officials Monday for his latest daily press briefing regarding the State’s COVID-19 response.
GREENBRIER COUNTY CHURCH UPDATE
On Monday, Gov. Justice provided an update on the most recent outbreak of COVID-19 at one of West Virginia’s churches.
Gov. Justice reported that at least 28 positive cases have now been identified, connected to the same church in Greenbrier County.
“As soon as I heard about this outbreak, I immediately ordered the DHHR, West Virginia National Guard, and Greenbrier County Health Department to run to the fire,” Gov. Justice said. “I also ordered the National Guard to immediately go to the site to begin decontamination, and they are on site today.”
The church has closed for 14 days of environmental cleaning with support from the National Guard. The DHHR will provide guidance on further prevention measures.
The outbreak in Greenbrier County marks the fifth COVID-19 outbreak at one of West Virginia’s churches.
“We have concern like you can’t imagine in that community right now,” Gov. Justice said. “How many communities do we have like this in West Virginia? They’re everywhere. Absolutely, this could be your community tomorrow. This could be your church tomorrow. This could be your family tomorrow.
“We need to do anything and everything we can do to deal with this. I want to strongly encourage all West Virginians, especially when in church settings, to follow the guidelines and use every other pew, maintain social distancing, and please wear masks.”
Due to the outbreak, Gov. Justice announced that free community COVID-19 testing in Greenbrier County – which had already been underway over the weekend – had been extended for an additional day to encourage more community members to be tested.
GRANT FUNDING TO CITIES AND COUNTIES NOW UP TO $6.3 MILLION
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice provided an update on cities and counties throughout West Virginia applying for funds through the federal CARES Act, reporting that, as of Monday morning, $6.3 million has now been distributed all across the state.
“We’re looking for more and more people to apply for these CARES Act dollars,” Gov. Justice said. “As we can process applications and follow the federal guidelines, we’ll get the dollars out to you.”
A web portal is available for city and county government officials to apply for this grant funding: grants.wv.gov. Interested parties can also call the helpline: 1-833-94-GRANT.
WEEK 8 OF “THE COMEBACK” NOW UNDERWAY
During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice reminded West Virginians that today marks the start of the eighth week of his plan to reopen the state’s economy: West Virginia Strong – The Comeback.
No additional reopenings are currently scheduled for Week 8 as health experts continue to monitor the number of COVID-19 cases across the state.
“We’ve had a lot of reopenings that we’ve had in the past few weeks, but we still need to remain very cautious,” Gov. Justice said. “As we go forward, we’re going to continue to watch the numbers and stay on top of them in every way we possibly can.”
Announcements regarding future reopenings have been made. Guidance documents for all businesses and other entities permitted to reopen can be found online.
The Governor’s Safer At Home order remains in effect.
STATE OF EMERGENCY IN EFFECT FOR FAYETTE COUNTY FLOODING
Gov. Justice took time out of Monday’s briefing to provide more information on weekend flooding in Fayette County, which caused the Governor to declare a State of Emergency yesterday evening.
The Governor reported that the storm carried with it a large amount of hail and lightning, along with excessive amounts of rain that caused flooding in the Oak Hill, Minden, Scarboro, and Whipple areas of Fayette County.
“Multiple businesses and homes have been inundated with floodwaters,” Gov. Justice said. “No one has reported any loss of life at this time, but people have had to evacuate homes and they’ve had water damage and all kinds of other issues.
“Please join Cathy and I in keeping everyone affected by this terrible flooding in your thoughts and prayers.”
Swiftwater rescue teams from Oak Hill and surrounding fire departments were performing water rescues in the Minden area.
Warm Hands from Warm Hearts in Oak Hill is operational as a shelter for evacuees of the impacted areas.
The American Red Cross and WV VOAD were working at the Emergency Operations Center Monday morning.
The West Virginia Division of Highways had crews out Sunday and overnight into Monday morning. They discovered damage to a bridge approach on Old Minden Road and several roads have significant shoulder, ditch, and embankment erosion and are blocked with debris. Complete repairs will take approximately a week and a half, with crews working extended hours.