CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia health leaders and other officials Monday for his daily press briefing regarding the State’s COVID-19 response.
WEEK 9 OF “THE COMEBACK” NOW UNDERWAY
During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that the Week 9 phase of West Virginia Strong – The Comeback is now officially underway, meaning that several additional types of activities are permitted to reopen, provided that all safety guidelines are being properly followed.
Approved activity reopenings on Monday, June 22, include:
•Youth sports games and all outdoor sporting events with spectators
•Outdoor equestrian events with spectators
•Outdoor motorsport and powersport racing with spectators
•Summer youth camps
Monday also marked the first day that high schools across West Virginia were permitted to begin holding in-person graduation ceremonies, provided that several strict guidelines are followed; including that all graduations must be held at outdoor venues and must be structured to allow for adequate social distancing and for other safety measures to be properly followed.
Entities included in each phase of this reopening plan are not required to resume operations on any specific date. This plan provides the option for reopening, not a requirement.
RALEIGH COUNTY ASSISTED LIVING COMMUNITY UPDATE
Additionally Monday, Gov. Justice reported that one direct care staff member at the Greystone Assisted Living Community in Raleigh County has tested positive for COVID-19.
The Governor reported that the employee had worked in the facility both the day before and the day of the positive test. However, the employee had been wearing a cloth mask throughout their shift.
County health officials tested all residents and all staff members who live and work in the community.
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice reported that the number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia is up over 100 since Friday, with a total of 782 cases active at this time.
“We are seeing the results of people traveling out of our state – especially places like Myrtle Beach – and we see the fact that this disease has not gone away, has it? It’s still right here with us,” Gov. Justice said. “I would continue to just encourage you, so much, in every way, to watch what you’re doing.”
GOVERNOR URGES MYRTLE BEACH VISITORS TO GET TESTED
Once again on Monday, Gov. Justice discussed the recent surge in COVID-19 cases seen at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, cautioning residents who are considering traveling to the popular vacation destination that several West Virginians have returned from Myrtle Beach and learned they were exposed to the virus.
There are now outbreaks in six West Virginia counties tied to Myrtle Beach:
•Preston County: 26 individuals positive with 11 probable cases
•Berkeley County: 12 individuals positive
•Cabell County: 5 individuals positive
•Kanawha County: 3 individuals positive
•Raleigh County: 2 individuals positive
•Taylor County: 1 individual positive
“This is enough,” Gov. Justice said. “If you’ve gone to Myrtle Beach, we want you tested. When you get back, take advantage of our free testing locations.
“In order to be able to protect you, we’ve got to have information,” Gov. Justice continued. “Myrtle Beach is an absolute hot spot and, if I were you, I would consider going somewhere else. But, if you end up going to Myrtle Beach, when you come back, please get yourself tested.”
DHHR RELEASES VACATION TRAVEL GUIDANCE
Later Monday afternoon, officials with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health (BPH) released safety guidelines outlining the best practices for West Virginians traveling for vacation.l
UPDATE ON CHURCH OUTBREAKS
Additionally Monday, Gov. Justice provided an update on several church-related outbreaks of COVID-19 across West Virginia.
Gov. Justice reported that three church-related outbreaks are active at this time. They are associated with churches located in Greenbrier, Ohio, and Boone counties.
To-date, the outbreak in Greenbrier County has resulted in 41 positive test results. The outbreak in Ohio County has resulted in 18 positive test results. The outbreak in Boone County has resulted in nine positive test results.
“I keep saying, over and over, that I strongly encourage you, when you’re in a church, wear your mask, stay socially distanced, use every other pew,” Gov. Justice said. “In a church setting, where people are singing and close together, it is an absolute breeding ground for this disease to perpetuate itself and we’ve absolutely got to be on our game there and follow our guidelines.”
STATE OF EMERGENCY: GREENBRIER AND MONROE COUNTIES
Gov. Justice also took time out of Monday’s briefing to report that over the weekend, he declared a State of Emergency for Greenbrier and Monroe counties after rainfall caused significant flooding in the Alderson area.
“No one has died, but several structures were damaged,” Gov. Justice said. “I want to thank everybody, from our emergency management teams, to the DOH, to our National Guard for quickly responding to this emergency.
The Governor added that, for residents affected by the flooding, the West Virginia National Guard will perform debris pickup in the Alderson area Wednesday morning, June 24, 2020. All debris needs to be at the curbside for pickup.
GRANT FUNDS TO CITIES AND COUNTIES UP TO $11 MILLION
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice provided an update on cities and counties throughout West Virginia applying for funds through the federal CARES Act, reporting that more than $11 million has now been distributed all across the state.
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.
Each of the recipients of CARES Act funding, along with grant amounts, are now available to view through the COVID-19 transparency web portal provided by West Virginia State Auditor’s Office.
STATEWIDE CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES TESTING UPDATE
Additionally Monday, Gov. Justice provided another update on his initiative to test all inmates and employees within the State’s network of correctional facilities for COVID-19.
The most recent testing results showed there were a total of four active COVID-19 cases among all inmates and residents across West Virginia. The cases are all at Huttonsville Correctional Center and Jail. There also remains one active COVID-19 case among corrections employees and contract staff.
More than 10,000 inmates and 4,000 employees were tested in total.
WEST VIRGINIANS URGED TO PARTICIPATE IN CENSUS
Once more today, Gov. Justice asked all West Virginians to participate in the 2020 United States Census.
Every West Virginian who does not respond to the Census represents a loss of $20,000 in federal funds over the next 10 years for the state and its local communities. The funds can go toward things like healthcare, education, infrastructure, school lunch programs, and more.
Be counted in minutes: 2020census.gov.