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.
ST. FRANCIS HOSPITAL TO BE STOOD UP AS COVID-19 SURGE FACILITY
During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that, as a precautionary measure, he has directed the Department of Health and Human Resources to work with Thomas Health, the parent company of Saint Francis Hospital, to immediately stand up as a COVID-19 surge hospital.
“We’re doing this as a test run to make sure that if we need this surge hospital, it will be ready to go,” Gov. Justice said. “I hope and pray that we don’t. But we are taking this step to prepare so that we are as ready as we can be if the need arises.”
Initially, 15 beds will be prepared. This will be the first step toward implementing a surge hospital and testing whether it would be prepared to receive COVID-19 patients.
In April, Saint Francis Hospital reconfigured two floors and added beds and equipment to serve up to 75 coronavirus patients. The COVID-19 surge hospital is designed to treat coronavirus patients, diagnosed at medical facilities across the state, who are primarily in need of active short-term care or rehabilitation services. Transfers will be coordinated through DHHR and the Thomas Health Transfer Center.
If and when St. Francis Hospital begins to accept COVID-19 patients, there will not be visitors. iPads will be provided to allow for scheduled virtual visits. Temperature checks will be performed on all those entering the facility and all patients must wear a face covering. For the most up to date information, please refer to ThomasHealth.org.
“I want to thank Thomas Health for their assistance and offering up this facility for our use during this terrible pandemic,” Gov. Justice said.
LOGAN & BECKLEY HOSPITAL ASSISTANCE
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice announced that, over the weekend, he directed the DHHR and the West Virginia National Guard to closely monitor rises in COVID-19 cases in both staff and patients at Beckley ARH Hospital and Logan Regional Medical Center and to assist where needed.
“We’re absolutely trying, in every way we possibly can, to absolutely be as proactive as we can,” Gov. Justice said. “Over the weekend, our people visited these facilities, and we’ve had ongoing conversations about all the ways we can continue to help.”
DHHR’s epidemiologists are working with the Logan County and Beckley-Raleigh County health departments as well as assisting the two hospitals with contact tracing.
The National Guard is offering support for sanitization and deep-cleaning services. They will also assess personal protective equipment needs for both hospitals.
“We tested 388 people yesterday in the Logan area with our free testing and we continue to offer that up to any and everybody who has a concern,” Gov. Justice said. “Please go get tested.”
PRINCETON NURSING HOME UPDATE
Additionally Monday, Gov. Justice and state health officials provided an update on a recent outbreak at Princeton Health Care Center – a long-term care facility in Mercer County – announcing that 33 residents and 31 staff members have now tested positive for COVID-19.
Of that total, 19 individuals have now been hospitalized.
“Absolutely, the Princeton situation is not good. But we are running to the fire with everything we’ve got,” Gov. Justice said. “Dr. Amjad was there herself over the weekend and all of our people are staying on top of this to the very, very best of all of our abilities.
“We are having a real problem in Logan, Mercer, and Mingo counties,” Gov. Justice said. “I caution all West Virginians, especially those in the southern part of our state, to take every possible precaution. This terrible killer is moving from the south and we’ve got to stay on our game.”
MEDICAL ACCESS ROAD PROJECTS ANNOUNCED
Also on Monday, under Gov. Justice’s plan to put $50 million of West Virginia’s federal CARES Act funding toward road projects that will improve access to medical facilities across the state, the West Virginia Department of Transportation announced their new program to accomplish this mission: Medical Access Road Projects (MARP).
The MARP program includes projects in all 55 counties, which will improve access to medical facilities for citizens.
The DOT coordinated with local and county emergency officials to vet and prioritize the projects.
“These projects focus heavily on paving, drainage, slips, slides, and any other issue that may make it difficult for emergency personnel to respond to calls,” Gov. Justice said. “We want to correct these issues and provide ease of access to medical services for all West Virginians.”
MONONGALIA COUNTY BAR CLOSURE EXTENDED 10 MORE DAYS
Additionally Monday, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that he issued an executive order over the weekend, again extending the closure of all bars in Monongalia County for an additional 10 days.
The closure will now remain in effect until Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, at 12:01 a.m.
“I am very hopeful that we’ll be able to reopen, on a limited basis, very soon,” Gov. Justice said. “But right now, with the situation we’re in, we don’t need to bring the bars back up online.”
Click here to read an overview of the rules and regulations for Monongalia County bars (via the West Virginia ABCA).
Click here to read more
COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS UPDATE
As of Monday morning, the total number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia had increased to 1,938.
Over the weekend, the state saw 239 new positive cases confirmed. Despite the recent increase in case numbers, West Virginia continues to excel in several metrics compared to its surrounding states and the national average.
View more COVID-19 data at Coronavirus.wv.gov.
FREE COVID-19 TESTING
Gov. Justice also updated the schedule of upcoming free community COVID-19 testing events taking place over the next several weeks at various dates and times in Brooke, Hampshire, Jackson, McDowell, Raleigh and Taylor counties.
The effort is part of a plan to provide free optional testing to all residents in several counties that are experiencing higher rates of COVID-19 transmission. It targets residents who have struggled to be seen by a physician or do not have insurance to pay for testing. However, other residents, including those who are asymptomatic are welcome to be tested.
Testing details listed below in chronological order:
August 3 & 5
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Beckley ARH Southern Clinic: 250 Stanaford Road, Beckley, WV
8:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Hampshire High School: 157 Trojan Way, Romney, WV
12:00 PM – 6:00 PM
River Front Park: 220 Riverfront Park, Ravenswood, WV
12:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Cedar Lakes Conference Center: 82 FFA Drive, Ripley, WV
8:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Southside Middle School: 13509 Rocket Boys Drive, War, WV
8:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Tug Lot: 198 Tug Tower Addition Road, Welch, WV
8:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Grafton High School: 400 Yates Avenue, Grafton, WV
August 14 & 15
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Hummel Field House: 6268 Main Street, Bethany, WV
SMALL BUSINESS GRANT APPLICATIONS
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that applications are available for small businesses seeking to receive funding through the Governor’s West Virginia CARES Act Small Business Grant Program.
The initiative is providing $150 million of West Virginia’s CARES Act funding to qualifying businesses across the state. Any West Virginia-based small business, in existence on March 1, 2020, with 1-35 employees, is able to apply for up to $5,000 in grant funding.
Businesses planning to apply must first be registered as a vendor with the State to be eligible. Guidelines for the grants and instructions on how to apply are available at Grants.wv.gov.
The application will remain open until Sept. 30, 2020.
CITIES/COUNTIES GRANT FUNDING: $101.9 MILLION HAS NOW BEEN AWARDED
Also today, Gov. Justice provided an update on cities and counties throughout West Virginia applying for funds through the federal CARES Act, reporting that more than $101.9 million has now been awarded all across the state.
A new web portal is now available for city and county government officials to apply for this grant funding, at 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.
WEST VIRGINIA STRONG SUMMER FOOD ASSISTANCE MAP
Also, Gov. Justice reminded West Virginians that an interactive free-feeding location map, designed to help connect citizens in need to food resources across the state, is available online.
More than 696 free-feeding locations have now been made available through a multi-agency effort between the West Virginia National Guard, the West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services, the West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (WV VOAD), and the United Way.
If food distribution locations aren’t available in some communities, individuals are encouraged to call 211 for further assistance.
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.
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.