WEST VIRGINIA—With the fluid situation that is COVID-19, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice continues to update residents and be proactive, in order to combat the spread of this virus.
On Friday, the governor held a media conference where he shared that sooner than later medicines will be on their way to “shut this thing down.” However, Justice is still urging West Virginians to take the situation seriously.
“I am asking that all of you join me in following the recommendations that I have set in place, as long as those that the CDC has put into place,” he said.
He delivered statistics regarding an alarmingly high number of out of state individuals that are occupy lodges throughout the state.
According to Gov. Justice, 69 percent of those taking up occupancy at the state’s lodges are from outside of the state of West Virginia, increasing the exposure of Coronavirus to WV residents and lodge personnel.
It was this reasoning that led to the governor’s decision to close down all lodges within the state.
“We have to close them for the protection of our people. We just have to. It is that simple,” he added.
Although the lodges will close, Justice says that state parks, campgrounds and cabins will remain open to the public and wants people to utilize them as much as possible during this time.
“We want you to get out and hike and bike, enjoy nature. Being outdoors is the best way to distance yourself,” he elaborated. “Being outdoors is good for us right now. Just go out and breath in the pristine air at one of our state parks.”
He went on to say that despite recommendations to seize trout stocking, it will continue.
“The idea of halting our stocking is just not fathomable to me. We want people outdoors. We want them to enjoy going fishing. We still have to go on living,” Justice expressed.
He added to that statement by praising the West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt for the work he has done to ensure trout stocking continues as normal, farmer’s and livestock markets remain open, as well as feed suppliers.
“Our food chains need to remain open, and Kent has done just an outstanding job where that is concerned,” the governor stated.
During the conference, Justice revealed another large number of out of towners are inhabiting the southern part of state at the Hatfield and McCoy Trail System.
He divulged that 85 percent of people access the trail system are for from a different state, and again for the safety of WV residents, ordered the trail to shut down as of midnight last night.
“All of our positive tests are travel related this far. We have to, absolutely have to, limit our state-to-state travel,” Gov. Justice urged.
In a positive light, the governor reported the purchase of 100,000 N95 masks and 275 special protective suits, which can be reused. He shared that of those 100,000 masks, 30,000 of them will be distributed to first responders throughout the state, while the remainder will go to the WV DHHR to be dispersed among health care providers.
Justice also announced that Alteco donated 16 ventilators to the state from the Fairmont Regional Medical Center that closed its doors early this week.
“So far we have closed schools, bars, hair and nail salons, barber shops, gyms, fitness centers, casinos and now lodges and the Hatfield and McCoy Trail. Pennsylvania announced the closure of their coalmines recently, this idea is absurd to me,” Justice said.
He went on to say the he believes that coal mining is, as it has been for many years, extremely essential to everyday life and has no plans on ordering West Virginia coal mines to close.
The governor did however caution coalminers, along with all West Virginians to be separate from others as much as possible, to wash their hands well, not to touch their faces and to stay home if they are feeling ill.
“West Virginia is an elderly state, so we are a high risk state. We have to do our part to shut down the engine of this thing, and staying away is how we are going to do that,” he proclaimed.
He pleaded for all WV residents to help the elderly any way they could and said that we have the power in our hands to put a stop to the spread of the virus.
“If we take this seriously and follow the guidelines I have put in place, we have the potential to be the beacon of hope for our nation. I am counting on all of you to join our efforts and let the rest of the world see what a diamond in the rough West Virginia is,” Justice expressed. “I love this state and her people, and when this is all over, we can say we stuck together in true West Virginia fashion.”