COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice directs West Virginia National Guard to Princeton nursing facility; awards $1.3 million to fairs and festivals

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.

During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that the Princeton Health Care Center – a long-term care facility in Mercer County – currently has a confirmed total of at least 30 COVID-19 cases.

Gov. Justice announced Monday that he has directed the West Virginia National Guard to assist with testing and offer further support as needed.

“The National Guard, under my order, is running to the fire,” Gov. Justice said. “They’re going to test everyone there and we’re going to try in every way we can to suppress this situation immediately.”

“We’re working closely with the Mercer County Health Department on this outbreak,” West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch said.

In recent months, West Virginia was the first state in the nation to order the full testing of all residents and employees at each of the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Also on Monday, Gov. Justice announced that he will be awarding a total of more than $1.3 million, spread out among each of the state’s 392 fairs and festivals, in order to keep as many of these events afloat as possible moving forward.

All fairs, festivals, and similar events were closed two weeks ago for safety purposes.

“Because of this terrible COVID situation, because of a lack of funds, we stand to lose 50 percent of our fairs and festivals across the state if we don’t do something,” Gov. Justice said. “We can’t have that happen. That’s all there is to it.”

A total of $1,346,000 will be used to reimburse each of these fairs and festivals for the funding they would have received out of the state budget to hold their respective events.

“We’re doing this in an effort to ensure that we are going to continue to be able to have our fairs and festivals because, I think, in a lot of ways, these events are the backbone of our counties,” Gov. Justice said. “I hope to goodness that this will save a bunch, if not all of our fairs and festivals.”

Gov. Justice took time out of his briefing Monday to report that June 2020 hunting and fishing license sales were up by nearly 40 percent compared to the same month last year.

In June 2020, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources sold 43,091 licenses, compared to 31,148 licenses for the same month in 2019.

In an effort to encourage outdoor activity among West Virginia residents at a safe distance during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Justice greatly expanded the state’s annual Free Fishing Days promotion, holding dates for free fishing in March, extending the promotion through nearly all of April and May, and holding an additional free fishing weekend in June.

As a result, this June, more than 10,000 total fishing licenses were sold, shortly after the series of free fishing promotions came to an end.

“Over 50 percent of all fishing license sales this year have been from new, first-time license holders,” Gov. Justice said. “Now, what does that tell you? It tells you that when we did the program to let people go fishing for free, a lot of people went and they had a great time and now they’re buying licenses.”

Last week, the Governor also announced that West Virginia State Parks had seen a 227 percent increase in online reservations from West Virginia residents in June 2020 compared to the previous year as a result of the state’s ongoing WVSTRONG Discount.

“I’m just tickled to death that people are getting out and enjoying the great outdoors of this state because it is absolutely magnificent,” Gov. Justice said. “Go fishing, go hunting, go walking, go hiking, go biking. This state abounds in beauty like you can’t fathom.”

Gov. Justice encourages all West Virginians to practice proper social distancing and maintain at least six feet of space between themselves and others as they continue to explore Almost Heaven through the rest of the summer.

Additionally Monday, Gov. Justice announced that, as a result of identifying 223 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, the total number of active cases in West Virginia has reached a new state record high of 1,703.

View more COVID-19 data at

As of Monday morning, Kanawha County had 266 active cases, the highest total for any county in the state. Monongalia County now has 177 active cases.

Also on Monday, Gov. Justice announced that 137 cases of COVID-19 across West Virginia have now been linked to active church-related outbreaks in eight counties statewide.

Counties where such outbreaks have been identified include Boone, Grant, Kanawha, Logan, Mason, Raleigh, Taylor, and Wood counties.
Gov. Justice also updated the schedule of upcoming free community COVID-19 testing events taking place over the next two weeks at various dates and times in Gilmer, Marion, and Hampshire 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.

Gilmer County
Friday, July 31 & Saturday, August 1
7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
809 Medical Drive, Suite 3, Glenville, WV

Marion County
Saturday, August 1
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Windmill Park: 900 Ogden Avenue, Fairmont, WV

Hampshire County
Wednesday, August 5
8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Hampshire High School: 157 Trojan Way, Romney, WV

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 will provide $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

The application will remain open until Sept. 30, 2020.

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 $57.5 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 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.

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.

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:

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

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