Governor 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 precautionary measures being taken in the interest of protecting the public from the potential spread of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
To further combat the spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice issued a "Stay At Home" order today, directing all West Virginia residents to stay at home and limit movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs.
The order will go into effect beginning Tuesday, March 24, 2020, at 8 p.m. and will remain in effect until terminated by subsequent executive order.
In order to read the order, click here: https://coronavirus-wvgovstatus-cdn.azureedge.net/STAY_AT_HOME_ORDER.pdf
"This disease is really serious stuff. Please stay home, please listen to our order, and please in every way shape, form, or fashion keep consulting your God above and absolutely every one of us will get through this."
Statewide Day Of Prayer Announced - Justice also announced that he is inviting all West Virginians – including families, businesses, and religious leaders – to join with him in recognizing a statewide day of prayer this Wednesday, March 25, 2020.
"If there's any time, now's the time when we need to be looking to God above for assistance in any and every way we possibly can," Gov. Justice said.
More details on this statewide day of prayer will be announced tomorrow.
COVID-19 Case Update - During his address, the Governor announced that COVID-19 testing capacity continues to expand in West Virginia, with at least 1,500 people across the state having tests submitted to-date. Officials with the Department of Health and Human Resources also announced that at least 49 hospitals are now submitting tests to public and private labs across the state, while 19 communities are ready to do community-based testing.
The Governor also confirmed that one recent positive case of COVID-19 has been identified in an individual living in a nursing home, signaling the beginning of a community spread of the disease.
The Governor also announced that four members of the West Virginia National Guard have been dispatched to the nursing home where the positive case was identified and will immediately be testing everyone in the nursing home.
Additional Contributions - The West Virginia National Guard continues to be a key organization in the State's response to the spread of COVID-19. The Governor announced that WVNG Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. James Hoyer has been working alongside the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and looking at several hospitals in communities around the state as part of national effort to build out bed capacity in the event of a surge of COVID-19 patients.
Additionally, the WVNG has led multiple safety training efforts across the state, providing classroom and hands-on instruction on personal protective equipment (PPE) usage. The Guard has trained approximately 80 health care workers at the Milton and Huntington branches of Valley Health and approximately 50 first responders and sanitation workers from multiple agencies including Huntington Fire, Huntington Police, and EMS. The WVNG has also trained ER staff at the Cabell-Huntington Hospital and multiple other first responder agencies in the Cabell-Huntington area.
Today, Guard members made their way to Maryland to pick up a batch of 275 recently procured Tyvek suits with special filtering masks which will also be used by healthcare providers and first responders. The WVNG also has additional personnel working at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to manage the logistics of distributing supplies.
Multi-Agency Child Feeding Effort Underway - Justice also announced today that the West Virginia National Guard has begun working with leadership from the West Virginia Tourism Office and the West Virginia Department of Education to establish a program to address the need for feeding students as schools around the state continue to be closed.
The Governor thanked the nearly 100 restaurants and hotels around the state which have expressed interest in providing food to students who remain out of school.
Universities Making Dorms Available For Healthcare Workers - Working alongside West Virginia University Vice President and Executive Dean of Health Sciences Dr. Clay Marsh, Gov. Justice and State leaders have begun reaching out to medical schools across West Virginia, asking them to help the State identify housing options for healthcare workers. Today, the Governor announced that WVU and Marshall University are willing and able to donate unused dorm rooms for medical staff to live in while they are taking care of COVID-19 patients.
Closure Of Park Cabins, Restrooms - Also today, the Governor announced that he is mandating the closure of cabins and restrooms at West Virginia's state parks. The parks themselves, trails, and other public areas remain open. However, the Governor continues to urge all people utilizing the state's natural resources to continue practicing social distancing and stay at least six feet apart from one another.
Statutory Regulations Suspended - Justice also ordered the suspension of several additional statutory regulations throughout the duration of the State of Emergency.
State Processing Unemployment Claims - The Governor also announced that staff with Workforce West Virginia have been working around the clock to process approximately 17,000 new unemployment claims for individuals who are out of work, separated from employment, have had their hours of employment reduced, or are prevented from working due to either a documented medical condition caused by COVID-19 or due to communicable disease control measures related to COVID-19.
Additional Information - Justice is continuing to encourage West Virginians to follow the guidelines presented Monday by President Donald J. Trump to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people.
For more information about COVID-19 prevention and more, call the State's toll-free hotline at 1-800-887-4304 or visit Coronavirus.wv.gov.