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.
GOVERNOR AGAIN ENCOURAGES WEST VIRGINIANS TO BE TESTED
During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice once again called on all West Virginians to make more of an effort to take advantage of the numerous free testing opportunities that are currently being provided across the state.
“We have got to go get tested. The more we test, the better off we’ll be,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve got to do everything in our power that we possibly can to stop this thing. We’ve made an incredible financial pledge to be able to do all the testing we have available right now. We have the West Virginia National Guard, the DHHR, and the local health departments – all those people out there on the front lines, working their ever-loving tails off – we’ve just got to show up. That’s all there is to it.”
Free testing sites will be available in nearly every West Virginia county before the holiday season begins, with events scheduled within 45 counties between now and Friday, Nov. 20, 2020.
“I don’t blow smoke at anyone,” Gov. Justice said. “I am telling you that we have to get more people tested. The manpower and the funding that we’ve invested to make this a possibility is unbelievable. We need you to take advantage of this opportunity, and we need community leaders like teachers, superintendents, coaches, the media, and everybody to encourage more and more people to get tested. It’s easy and it tells us so much that we need to know to slow this thing.”
AGGRESSIVE TESTING CONTINUES ACROSS STATE
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice offered an outline of the 45 counties that have upcoming free testing events scheduled for the near future through the Governor’s Aggressive Testing initiative.
This testing is available to all residents, 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.
Each county reaching Red or Orange status in the DHHR’s County Alert System map (Click “County Alert System” tab) is required to set up at least one free testing site within the same day. Each county reaching Gold status is required to set up at least one free testing site within 48 hours.
Gov. Justice also offered a reminder that, as part of his administration’s efforts to expand free COVID-19 testing throughout West Virginia, the State is now 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.
Walgreens is now offering free testing at 54 locations statewide, including several new testing sites. Locations include stores in Berkeley, Boone, Brooke, Cabell, Clay, Fayette, Gilmer, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, McDowell, Mercer, Monongalia, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Randolph, Summers, Taylor, Upshur, Wayne, Wetzel, Wood, and Wyoming counties.
Fruth Pharmacy is also offering free testing at 12 of their locations statewide, including stores in Cabell, Jackson, Kanawha, Mason, Putnam, Roane, and Wood counties.
Pre-registration is required for pharmacy drive-thru testing.
COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS UPDATE
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that the current number of active cases in the state is now 5,663. Meanwhile, the cumulative percent of positive cases is 2.97%, up from 2.95% on Monday.
The Governor also added that the statewide rate of COVID-19 transmission – also known as Rt – dropped to 1.09 as of Wednesday morning; tied for the 18th-best such rate of any state in the country.
Meanwhile, West Virginia continues to outperform the national average – as well as the rates of all of its bordering states – in lowest percentage of population positive, and lowest percentage of positive test results.
WEDNESDAY MAP UPDATE
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice provided a look at West Virginia’s latest mid-week County Alert System map update.
Red counties: 2 (Mineral, Mingo)
Orange counties: 9 (Berkeley, Hampshire, Jackson, Jefferson, Marshall, Ohio, Putnam, Tyler, Wood)
Gold counties: 9 (Braxton, Lincoln, Logan, Monroe, Morgan, Upshur, Wayne, Wetzel, Wyoming)
Yellow counties: 10 (Boone, Cabell, Kanawha, Marion, Pleasants, Preston, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Wirt)
Green counties: 25 (All others)
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.
DHHR’s COVID-19 Dashboard (Click “County Alert System” tab)
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are 18 active outbreaks in public schools across the state. These outbreaks account for 79 confirmed cases.
West Virginia now has 14 active church-related outbreaks across 12 counties: Cabell, Doddridge, Kanawha, Lewis, Mingo, Monroe, Raleigh, Ritchie, Tyler, Wayne, Wetzel, and Wood counties.
The Governor reported there are now 55 outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state, up from 47 on Monday.
Finally, the Governor announced that there remain zero active cases of COVID-19 among the state’s inmate population. There have not been any active inmate cases since last Thursday. However, according to the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR), there are 18 active cases among DCR employees.
$25 MILLION IN CARES ACT DOLLARS BEING PROVIDED TO HELP QUALIFYING WEST VIRGINIANS PAY UTILITY BILLS
Once again Wednesday, Gov. Justice provided a reminder that $25 million of CARES Act relief funds allocated to assist qualifying West Virginians pay their utility bills is being distributed across the state.
The money will go to local Public Service Districts so they can pass it along to customers.
Customers of electric, natural gas, water, and sewer utility companies who have experienced economic hardship and/or uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, causing them to have unpaid utility bills from the period of March 1 – July 31 of this year, may receive financial assistance to pay those bills.
Qualifying customers will receive a letter and application in the mail. Customers must complete and return the application by Thursday, November 12, 2020.
CITIES/COUNTIES GRANT FUNDING: OVER $170 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 $170 million has now been awarded all across the state.
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.
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.
Locate a flu vaccine near you through the DHHR website.
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.