COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice: West Virginia leading nation in several aspects of COVID-19 response


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.
WEST VIRGINIA EMERGING AS NATIONAL LEADER IN INNOVATIVE TESTING METHODS
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice highlighted several aspects of the State of West Virginia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic that are setting new precedents for the entire country.

The Governor recognized the West Virginia National Guard for becoming the first National Guard in the country to be approved by the U.S. Department of Defense to provide mobile testing for COVID-19.

The WVNG established two COVID-19 mobile testing laboratories, which were activated for use today. The units will be primarily stationed in Charleston and Morgantown.

The process for deploying the mobile testing units starts at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, which will alert the National Guard for the need of a rapid testing response in a particular area. From there, the National Guard will deploy one of the two mobile units within 45 minutes of receiving notification.
“Just think about that – innovation, with goodness in West Virginia, from smart people that are doing absolutely terrific work,” Gov. Justice said.

This comes just days after West Virginia became the first state in the country to begin testing all nursing home residents and staff members statewide.

Today, the Gov. Justice announced that recent testing of 120 people at the veterans nursing home in Barboursville resulted in just one positive case. The proactive testing allowed officials to move quickly in efforts to limit the spread.

Visit Coronavirus.wv.gov to view the most up-to-date COVID-19 testing numbers

“That tickles me to death because we had a few breakouts at nursing homes that were very, very alarming,” Gov. Justice said. “That’s why we went on this crusade to test everybody – something that had never been done in the nation before. Now, many, many states are following suit and, in fact, I’ve been told the CDC is on the verge of making that recommendation nationwide.”

Gov. Justice also highlighted a recent study that ranked West Virginia as the #1 state in the nation for carrying out the best response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It just came out the other day and, of all things, it should maybe be the thing we’re most proud of,” Gov. Justice said. “West Virginia was recognized for being first in the nation in the way that we have handled this thus far. And we need to continue to be first in the nation on how we decide to bring our people back as quickly and safely as we possibly can.”
GOV. JUSTICE WANTS TO GET BACK TO WORK SAFELY AND QUICKLY
Today, Gov. Justice reiterated that his intentions are to get West Virginians back to work as quickly and as safely as possible in the face of the pandemic.

“The one thing I’ve tried, with all in me, to do is guide us on a pathway to keep as many of us from getting sick and as many people from dying as I possibly could. As we move forward...I would tell you that if this nation and this engine doesn’t start back, we’re in incredible peril in terms of what could happen to us,” Gov. Justice said. “We have to go back to work. We have to be able to find a way to live with this dreaded disease until we get the vaccines to then be able to go back to life as normal.

“In that bridge period, what we’re going to do is we’re going to bring back as much as we can possibly do with the experts leading our way at each and every step,” Gov. Justice continued. “I want to put us back to work right now. But I also want to put us back in a way that is guided by our experts, guided by what our President is saying, guided by the guidelines coming out of D.C., and guided in a way that makes us the safest that we can be.”
GOVERNOR SPEAKS TO SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS
With low-interest loan packages from the federal government set to soon come in to small businesses to help keep their operations afloat, Gov. Justice provided a message to small business owners across West Virginia.

“Many of you probably do not think you have business interruption insurance,” Gov. Justice said. “And the insurance companies, especially the great, big, gigantic insurance companies they would look right at you and say ‘You don’t have any coverage.’ Don’t stop there. Get your best accountant, your best lawyer, your very best advisor and push it to the limit because many of you have coverage and you don’t know you’ve got it.”
UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS UPDATE
Today, Gov. Justice provided another update on WorkForce West Virginia and the National Guard’s efforts to process the wave of unemployment claims that have been filed across the State since March, reporting that more than 8,000 claims were processed yesterday alone.

“They’re still on track to have the backlog completely eliminated by tonight,” Gov. Justice said. “I know there are those of you that were frustrated. I was too. I tripled the amount of manpower. That wasn’t enough. So I tripled it again.

“It pleases me that we’re going to get this backlog behind us,” Gov. Justice continued.
Gov. Justice also discussed Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), an option for additional assistance benefitting workers who would otherwise not be eligible for unemployment compensation. This includes self-employed workers, independent contractors, workers with insufficient work histories, gig workers, ride sharing drivers, and more.

The Governor reminded qualified workers that applications for PUA will open on Friday, April 24, 2020, at 10 p.m. Applications will be available online at WorkForceWV.org.
WVDE POSTPONES GOVERNOR’S SCHOOLS FOR SUMMER 2020
Today, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) announced that they have postponed the 2020 Governor’s Schools planned for this summer. The Department organizes six residential academies each summer as part of this program to provide deep learning opportunities for students from grades 8-12.

Each year, the WVDE holds the Governor’s Schools at West Virginia college and university campuses and state facilities. West Virginia University and Marshall University have both announced that they will cancel on-site courses and resort to online instruction only this summer. Therefore, the venues will no longer be available.

Next year (summer 2021) the WVDE will double the number of programs offered to make sure that those students selected this year will still be able to participate. The exception will be the Governor’s Honors Academy. Since rising seniors attend this program, they will likely be unavailable next summer as they prepare for the next phases of their lives. Therefore, the WVDE hopes to host weekend experiences and recognitions this fall to celebrate their accomplishments. These plans are not yet complete but will be shared with students and their families and released publicly as soon as possible.

Click here to read more
WEST VIRGINIA NATIONAL GUARD UPDATE
The West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) continues to make progress in the testing of all nursing home facilities in the state, in coordination with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia Health Care Association.

Members of Task Force CRE and Task Force Medical conducted COVID-19 testing at Morgantown Health and Rehabilitation today for more than 120 staff members, who in turn tested patients in the facility. This marks the third facility to undergo testing by the WVNG this week and to date, this team has tested 1,217 people as a part of their response mission.

The West Virginia Guard will also assist in COVID-19 testing at numerous state hospitals starting tomorrow and by Friday will have completed four of the seven locations in the state.

In addition to conducting COVID-19 testing for nursing homes, Task Force CRE continues their missions of providing personal protective equipment (PPE) wear training to long-term care facilities and plan to visit 10 locations today. Members are also providing assistance for COVID-19 drive through testing lanes and to date, have trained 637 stores, 2,778 personnel and 45 medical or long-term care facilities.

Click here to read more about the WVNG’s latest 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.

Advertisement