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.
GUIDELINES FOR REOPENING CERTAIN BUSINESSES NOW AVAILABLE
On Tuesday, Gov. Justice provided additional guidelines for certain businesses that may be permitted to reopen as early as next week as part of “West Virginia Strong – The Comeback” – the Governor’s plan to reopen businesses in certain sectors in phases.
The guidelines provided today are for small businesses with 10 or fewer employees, restaurants with takeaway service or outdoor dining options available, as well as religious entities and funeral homes – all of which are among the types of businesses permitted to resume operations in the “Week 2” phase of the Governor’s plan, which would begin Monday, May 4, if the statewide cumulative percent of positive test results (available at Coronavirus.wv.gov) remains below 3 percent through the evening of Wednesday, April 29.
These guidance documents are being provided in advance of the earliest possible reopening date – Monday, May 4 – to give businesses a chance to prepare to resume operations in accordance with the new guidelines. If the statewide cumulative percent of positive test results were to increase above the 3 percent threshold, the reopening scheduled may be delayed. The Governor’s Office will provide updates in the days ahead.
Professional service businesses such as hair salons, nail salons, barbershops, and pet grooming are also permitted to reopen in the “Week 2” phase of the plan. Additional guidelines for the reopening of these types of businesses will be provided by the board or commission that regulates each professional service.
GOV. JUSTICE PROVIDES ADDITIONAL CLARIFICATION ON PLAN TO REOPEN WEST VIRGINIA
Gov. Justice also provided further clarification about his plan to reopen the state.
The Governor explained that the entire six-week reopening process will go into action if, during the ongoing three-day observation period, statewide cumulative percent of positive test results remain below 3 percent.
“We tracked a day on Monday, we’re tracking a day today, and we’re tracking a day tomorrow,” Gov. Justice said. “If we stay under 3 percent, then on Wednesday evening at 5 o’clock, we’ll have our three days and Week 1 will commence immediately.”
The Governor also clarified that each subsequent phase of the reopening process – Weeks 2-6 – will begin on each week’s respective Monday.
TENTATIVE dates for reopening:
Week 1 – Thursday, April 30
Week 2 – Monday, May 4
Weeks 3-6 will begin on subsequent Mondays
Businesses opening Weeks 3-6 will be announced the week before
DHHR AND WVU PARTNER TO OFFER ONLINE COURSE FOR CONTACT TRACING
Additionally, Gov. Justice announced that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia University School of Public Health are teaming up to offer an online course, training public health investigators how to perform contact tracing for COVID-19.
Contact tracing is a method used to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Health investigators work with COVID-positive patients to try to help them remember everyone they were in contact with while they may have been infectious. People who might have been exposed can then be warned.
The DHHR and WVU are recruiting members of the West Virginia National Guard and anyone assisting DHHR or local health departments in their response to COVID-19 to take part in the course, which begins this week. Senior undergraduate and graduate level students in public health, health professional programs, and related fields may also participate.
“I am proud to see this partnership and commend WVU for getting this done,” Gov. Justice said. “This is more great work being done by West Virginians and it’s more great work by West Virginia University.”
DHSEM SECURES ACCESS TO PPE DECONTAMINATION SYSTEM
Also on Tuesday, Gov. Justice announced that the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has secured access to one of only 25 high-capacity decontamination systems for personal protective equipment (PPE) in the U.S., by working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the State of Virginia.
In early April, FEMA announced that the Battelle Memorial Institute would offer 25 Critical Care Decontamination Systems (CCDS) nationally to decontaminate personal protective equipment for health care and other frontline COVID-19 responders. A CCDS can decontaminate up to 80,000 N95 masks per day when operating at full capacity.
“This is one of 25 units in the entire country and very, very soon it’s going to come and be here,” Gov. Justice said. “I commend our Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and all of our Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety for all that they’ve done to make this a reality.”
EXECUTIVE ORDER ISSUED SUSPENDING REGULATIONS FOR DENTISTS, WVDE SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGISTS
Also on Tuesday, Gov. Justice signed an executive order suspending several regulatory statute provisions to provide more flexibility to dentists and speech-language pathologists across West Virginia as the State of Emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
WEST VIRGINIA NATIONAL GUARD UPDATE
Since beginning operations in support of the state’s COVID-19 response 46 days ago, the WVNG has completed 698 missions through six lines of effort of operationalizing of the event, stabilizing the population, providing logistical movement of critical supplies, innovation, state surge capacity and capability, and conducting data analysis to combat the virus. Currently, 704 members of the WVNG are on duty serving the citizens of the State of West Virginia.
Today, members of Task Force CRE are providing additional PPE training to the Harrison County Health Department while also supporting area healthcare facilities and retail establishments with PPE training. Members are also providing assistance for COVID-19 drive through testing lanes at three locations. To date, this team has trained 665 businesses, 3,318 personnel and 74 medical or long-term care facilities.
In addition to training, TF CRE and TF Medical will be conducting a COVID-19 testing mission tomorrow at the Weirton Geriatric Center. So far, they have conducted 220 COVID-19 tests for lane support and 2,277 tests as a part of their response mission.
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.