COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice discusses potential strategies to safely begin reopening daycares, restaurants


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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.

On Friday, Gov. Justice announced that discussions on ways to safely reopen various aspects of the state and its economy continue to ramp up.

“As we move forward, I would just promise you with all my soul that I will continue, with the experts that we’ve brought together, to try to protect you in every way,” Gov. Justice said. “But, at the same time, I’m also going to try every way in my power to get you back to work and get you back to the lifestyle that you’ve become accustomed to.

“We’ll try to go together as we run across the finish line with this terrible disease and move forward with our lives. We’re going to win this battle. But we’ve got to do it prudently, we’ve got to do the right thing from the standpoint of your safety and all of our safety.”

Visit Coronavirus.wv.gov to view the most up-to-date COVID-19 testing numbers
GOV. JUSTICE DISCUSSES REOPENING STRATEGY FOR DAYCARES, RESTAURANTS
After recently announcing plans to bring West Virginia’s hospitals back to full capacity by allowing elective procedures as early as next week, Gov. Justice unveiled today plans to test all staff members at West Virginia daycares so those facilities can reopen as quickly and safely as possible.

“So that way, when you bring your children to one of our daycares, you’ll know that component is as safe as possible,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re going to do ongoing testing of daycare staff and we’re going to try to come up with some ways we may be able to do temperature testing of other people coming into these facilities.”

The Governor also announced that he has directed his team to look into the safest ways to begin the process of reopening restaurants and determine what additional safety protocols may be necessary. He indicated the state will provide advance notice of at least a week before the current guidelines are altered.

Gov. Justice listed some safety requirements that are currently being considered, including limiting restaurant capacity, implementing special spacing requirements for bars and restaurants, increasing cleaning measures, limiting the number of people per table, instituting temperature checks for employees, requiring masks for cashiers and staff, providing disposable menus and utensils, and serving beverages in cans or bottles.

Additionally, Gov. Justice said that he has directed his team to specifically look into the possibility of easing restrictions on outdoor dining across the state.
MORGAN COUNTY REMOVED FROM COMMUNITY CLUSTER LIST
Gov. Justice also reported that, after implementing strict public health measures in Morgan County recently, the area has seen a low number of active cases of COVID-19.

As a result, the Governor announced today that he has issued an Executive Order, removing Morgan County from the list of COVID-19 community clusters in West Virginia.

Morgan County is still subject to all statewide restrictions, including the ongoing statewide Stay At Home order.

Eleven other counties across the state remain classified as “community clusters” and remain subject to additional restrictions as deemed necessary by their respective local health departments.

Click here to view all Executive Orders and other actions taken by Gov. Justice to combat the spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia.
WEST VIRGINIA INMATES RECOGNIZED FOR MAKING MASKS
Additionally today, Gov. Justice recognized the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety’s Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, along with inmates across the state, for their recent efforts making masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Inmates at Lakin Correctional Center – the state’s prison for women – as well as inmates at the Charleston Correctional Center and the Denmar Correctional Center have been making masks with materials supplied by the West Virginia National Guard.

The Denmar Correctional Center inmates have donated 600 of the masks to Pocahontas Memorial Hospital, Greenbrier Valley Hospital, and Pocahontas County Homeland Security and Emergency Management officials.

The Charleston Correctional Center inmates have provided nearly 500 masks to Charleston Area Medical Center, the Anstead Volunteer Fire Department, and the Montgomery Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, among others.

“I just want to thank DMAPS Secretary Sandy and all the different people involved in this program, along with the National Guard, for all the great stuff they’re doing,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s really amazing how many different people have stepped up in so many different walks of life to do really good stuff.”
BENEFITS FOR SELF-EMPLOYED WORKERS, INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS, AND OTHERS OPEN TONIGHT
Once again, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – an option for additional assistance benefitting workers who would otherwise not be eligible for unemployment compensation – will open tonight at 10 p.m.

Qualified workers include self-employed workers, independent contractors, workers with insufficient work histories, gig workers, ride sharing drivers, and more.

Applications will be available online at WorkForceWV.org.
GOV. JUSTICE PARTICIPATES IN CALL WITH VICE PRESIDENT PENCE
Also today, Gov. Justice took part in another conference with Vice President Mike Pence, members of the Coronavirus Task Force, and other governors across America to update the White House on how various states are progressing in their COVID-19 response efforts.
WEST VIRGINIA NATIONAL GUARD OUTLINES ADDITIONAL LINE OF EFFORT FOR COVID-19 RESPONSE
West Virginia National Guard adjutant general, Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, added an additional line of effort to the WVNG's COVID-19 response today, including innovation as a sustained objective moving forward.

"Since the beginning, Governor Justice has tasked the National Guard to look at innovative ways to assist West Virginia in battling this pandemic and our people have risen to that challenge," said Hoyer. "We will continue to look at ways to address PPE shortages, implement technologies to better assist agencies in this response, as well as find ways to safely move forward with reopening the economy to best protect West Virginians."

Members of Task Force CRE and Task Force Medical conducted COVID-19 testing at one additional state hospital and one nursing home facility in Elkins today consisting of approximately 600 patients and staff. This marks nine facilities to undergo testing by the WVNG this week and to date, this team has tested 1,799 people, not including today's testing, as a part of their response mission.

Click here to read more on the WVNG’s response efforts​
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Click here to view all Executive Orders and other actions taken by Gov. Justice to combat the spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia.

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.
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