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.
PARTNERSHIPS SPURRING CONTINUED EXPANSION OF FREE COVID-19 TESTING TO PHARMACY DRIVE-THRUS
During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that as part of his administration’s efforts to expand free COVID-19 testing throughout West Virginia, the State is partnering with Walgreens and West Virginia-based company Fruth Pharmacy to offer dozens of new free testing sites at several of their pharmacy drive-thrus across the state.
“This is just another way for West Virginians to get tested quickly and easily to help us stop the spread of this terrible virus,” Gov. Justice said. “There’s been a lot of great work – between our DHHR, our National Guard, and so many others – to make it simple for you to go get tested. We really need you to take advantage of all these opportunities and go get tested right now.”
Walgreens is offering free testing at 16 locations statewide, including stores in Boone, Cabell, Fayette, Kanawha, Logan, Monongalia, Putnam, and Raleigh counties.
Fruth Pharmacy is offering free testing at 12 of their locations statewide.
Testing at these sites opened today and will continue into the foreseeable future. Over the next several weeks, more locations will be added across the state.
You must make an appointment to be tested at these pharmacy drive-thru sites. More information can be found on the COVID-19 website, along with the schedule for additional free testing sites through various local health departments.
“I continue to urge every single person to get out and be tested,” Gov. Justice said. “At the end of the day, the more we test, the more we’ll know.”
AGGRESSIVE TESTING CONTINUES ACROSS STATE
Also today, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that additional free testing events are scheduled in the upcoming weeks for several counties all across West Virginia.
In each of the counties under the Orange color designation, testing sites will be offered throughout this week. According to the DHHR County Alert System map, Orange counties as of Friday included Cabell, Doddridge, Harrison, Logan, and Mingo counties
This testing is available to all residents in selected counties, including asymptomatic individuals. Proof of insurance is not required. Attendees should bring identification, such as a driver’s license or proof of address, to help in returning test results. Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
MONONGALIA COUNTY BARS PERMITTED TO REOPEN NEXT TUESDAY WITH RESTRICTIONS
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice announced that as a result of a significant recent improvement in Monongalia County case numbers, bars throughout the county will once again be permitted to reopen next Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, so long as these establishments follow all additional guidance provided by state health experts.
“With this reopening, we are stepping up enforcement by sending more ABCA agents and more state police to the area,” Gov. Justice said. “Bars that don’t follow the necessary safety guidelines, where we see a bunch of people packed in or no mask wearing – including in lines outside of your bar – you will be shut down again and any bars that don’t comply will have their license suspended.
“Please, I don’t like anything that becomes threatening,” Gov. Justice continued. “But you’ve got to listen to us. You’ve got to do everything in your power so that we don’t slip back into where we were before.
“To all the bar owners: try as hard as you possible can and we’ll work with you. If you’ll give it everything you’ve got, we’ll give it everything we’ve got, and we’ll succeed.”
GOV. JUSTICE PROVIDES FUNDING TO REPLENISH SNAP STRETCH PROGRAM
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice announced that he is providing $100,000 in CARES Act funding to the West Virginia Department of Agriculture to replenish the funds in the SNAP Stretch Program.
This program allows consumers using SNAP benefits to double their spending power at West Virginia farmers markets.
“I don’t know how it gets any better than that, because that’s the very best food that you can possibly obtain,” Gov. Justice said. “You know our farmers in this state are phenomenal. I surely know many of them and they do phenomenal work.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the SNAP Stretch Program had its annual $150,000 budget exhausted halfway through the 2020 growing season.
“Your Commissioner of Agriculture, Kent Leonhardt, is doing a fabulous job,” Gov. Justice said. “He and the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition came to me and requested additional money for this program and it was an easy call for me because this program means so much to so many great West Virginians.”
Gov. Justice announced that the $100,000 he is provided will sustain the program through at least mid-December.
CLARKSBURG VETERANS NURSING HOME
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice announced that after two employees at the West Virginia Veterans Nursing Facility in Clarksburg tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, more than 220 additional residents and staff members were tested, with all of the additional results coming back negative.
“Health experts have been in consultation with facility directors on next moves, the National Guard has been notified, and follow-up testing is being scheduled for this weekend.” Gov. Justice said.
The facility has stopped activities, visitation, and all outside appointments. Non-essential staff not required to work at the facility are being sent home.
The two employees who tested positive are both quarantining.
COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS UPDATE
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice reported that the number of active COVID-19 cases across the state is now 4,435, up from 4,327 on Wednesday. The cumulative percent of positive cases also increased to 2.79 percent, up from 2.77 percent on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, West Virginia’s statewide rate of COVID-19 transmission – also known as Rt – rose to 0.94; but remains among the top 5 best such rates of any state in the country.
West Virginia continues to outperform the national average – as well as the rates of all of its bordering states – in percentage of population tested, percentage of population positive, and percentage of positive test results.
FRIDAY MAP UPDATE
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice provided a look at West Virginia’s latest mid-week County Alert System map update, which featured an increase in the number of Orange an Gold counties across the state.
Red counties: 0
Orange counties: 5 (Cabell, Doddridge, Harrison, Logan, Mingo)
Gold counties: 8 (Barbour, Berkeley, Boone, Jackson, Kanawha, Putnam, Randolph, Upshur)
Yellow counties: 3 (Morgan, Nicholas, Wirt)
Green counties: 39 (All others)
“We have got to stay on our game in all of these counties all across our state,” Gov. Justice said. “If you’ll look predominantly through the north and the central parts of our state, as well as the Eastern Panhandle, and even certain areas of the south, we have big areas of our state that are dadgum good. But we do have some problems. We know where they are and we’ve just got to everyone in those spots focused so we can slow down the spread.”
The map is updated live on the DHHR’s COVID-19 Dashboard (Click “County Alert System” tab) throughout the week for informational purposes and to provide an indication of how each county is trending ahead of each Saturday at 5 p.m.; the time when each county is assigned its official color designation for the next week, which determines the level of scholastic, athletic, and extracurricular activities permitted in each county for that particular week.
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are 20 active outbreaks in public schools across the state. These outbreaks account for 59 confirmed cases.
West Virginia is now up to 15 active church-related outbreaks across 11 counties: Doddridge, Fayette, Harrison, Kanawha, Logan, Mason, McDowell, Nicholas, Putnam, Tucker, and Upshur counties. Another recent church-related outbreak in Nicholas County is no longer considered active at this time.
There are now 48 outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state.
Gov. Justice also reported that across the entire Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) system, there are now just three active cases of COVID-19 among inmates. One within Mount Olive Correctional Complex in Fayette County, one within North Central Regional Jail in Doddridge County, and one within Lorrie Yeager Jr. Juvenile Center in Wood County.
There are now 11 active cases among DCR employees across West Virginia.
GOV. JUSTICE CELEBRATES VIRGIN HYPERLOOP’S DECISION TO LOCATE CERTIFICATION CENTER IN WEST VIRGINIA
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to again celebrate yesterday’s announcement by officials from Virgin Hyperloop that the company will locate its new Hyperloop Certification Center (HCC) in West Virginia.
“Yesterday was an incredible day; a landmark day for the State of West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “The magnitude of that announcement was off-the-charts. Hyperloop could truly revolutionize the whole world and they’re locating their certification center in West Virginia.”
Hyperloop is an all-new mode of transportation, whereby people and goods are moved in pods through a vacuum tube at speeds exceeding 600 mph, enabling travel from Pittsburgh to Chicago in 41 minutes or New York City to Washington, D.C. in just 30 minutes.
“Not only is this incredible technology going to be further developed in West Virginia, it’s also going to bring thousands of high-paying jobs,” Gov. Justice said. “But beyond that, it brings validation to us that, of all the places in the country and of all the places in the world, Virgin Hyperloop knows how great it is in West Virginia. Imagine all the other companies that are looking at us now.”
The HCC will be located on nearly 800 acres of land, spanning Tucker and Grant counties, where it will leverage intellectual capital and resources from West Virginia University, Marshall University, and from across the state.
Work on the HCC is expected to begin in 2021 with a planned Welcome Center, Certification Track and Operations Center, Pod Final Assembly Facility, Production Development Test Center, and Operations, Maintenance and Safety Training Center.
“This may have seemed like a dream in the beginning, but you have a Governor who’s a dreamer,” Gov. Justice said. “Through the blessings of God above, we landed a monster monster fish yesterday. If you’re talking about a whole new type of transportation for the world, it may be the biggest announcement in the history of our state, and the spotlight that West Virginia is receiving across the world right now is far overdue in my book.”
FLU VACCINE REMINDER
Once again today, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to remind and encourage all West Virginians to get their flu vaccine.
According to health officials, everyone 6 months and older should receive this vaccine.
CITIES/COUNTIES GRANT FUNDING: OVER $142 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 $142 million has now been awarded all across the state. To date, 191 cities and counties have applied for this grant funding.
A web portal is available for city and county government officials to apply. 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 West Virginia State Auditor’s Office COVID-19 transparency website.
WEST VIRGINIA REMAINS AMONG NATIONAL LEADERS IN CENSUS RESPONSE RATE; ALL URGED TO PARTICIPATE
Once more today, Gov. Justice asked all West Virginians to participate in the 2020 United States Census.
West Virginia remains tied atop the national standings with the #1 best Census response rate in the country: 99.9 percent.
For perspective, during the last Census in 2010, the state’s final response rate was just 74 percent.
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.