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.
PRINCETON NURSING HOME OUTBREAK UPDATE
During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice provided an update on the recent outbreak of COVID-19 cases identified at Princeton Health Care Center – a long-term care facility in Mercer County.
Gov. Justice announced Wednesday that there are now a total of 42 active cases at the facility, an increase of 11 cases since his previous briefing Monday.
As of Wednesday afternoon, three deaths had been recorded as a result of this outbreak.
“I’ve said over and over, this thing is a killer and it can move quickly,” Gov. Justice said. “We can’t drop our guard. We have to stay on top of this.
“As phenomenal as you have been, West Virginia, we still have real risk.”
The Governor reported that on-site testing is happening today and the West Virginia National Guard is also providing PPE training to staff.
“When we first were notified, we ran everybody straight to fire,” Gov. Justice said. “We tested everybody there. Now we are going back and retesting.”
Gov. Justice also announced that he has directed the DHHR to investigate how this outbreak occurred and to do everything possible to limit the risk of similar occurrences at similar facilities moving forward.
“The evidence is, as we have completed contact tracing and looked at the source of the outbreak in the Princeton nursing home, that it came in from Myrtle Beach,” DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch said. “It’s certainly a concern.
“As everyone will recall, this disease started in West Virginia very slowly and only in a couple of settings,” Crouch continued. “We put a focus on our nursing homes to make sure we didn’t have broad spread there. The Governor tackled that head-on and we really tamped that down.”
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.
“Unfortunately, where we are now is that a broad range of settings and communities have had outbreaks,” Crouch said. “The Governor is right on target in terms of our weapon, our defense in fighting this pandemic is to wear a face covering.
“Please be considerate,” Crouch continued. “Make sure that you protect yourself, your families, and others by wearing a face covering.”
COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS UPDATE
As of Wednesday afternoon, the total number of active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia had dropped to 1,625.
View more COVID-19 data at Coronavirus.wv.gov.
Kanawha County now has 252 active cases – down from 266 on Monday, but still the highest total for any county in the state. Monongalia County now has 127 active cases – down from 177 on Monday.
ACTIVE CHURCH OUTBREAKS IN SIX COUNTIES
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that previous church-related outbreaks in Raleigh and Wood counties are no longer considered active at this time. However, additional church-related outbreaks remain active in six counties across West Virginia, including Boone, Grant, Kanawha, Logan, Mason, and Taylor counties.
These outbreaks account for about 131 total cases combined – down from 137 such cases on Monday.
“I again want to strongly encourage all West Virginians, especially when in church settings, to follow the guidelines and use every other pew, maintain social distancing, and please wear face coverings,” Gov. Justice said.
FREE COVID-19 TESTING: GILMER, MARION & HAMPSHIRE 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.
Friday, July 31 & Saturday, August 1
7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
809 Medical Drive, Suite 3, Glenville, WV
Saturday, August 1
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Windmill Park: 900 Ogden Avenue, Fairmont, WV
Wednesday, August 5
8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Hampshire High School: 157 Trojan Way, Romney, WV
GOV. JUSTICE DIRECTS OFFICIALS TO FIND LONG-TERM SOLUTION FOR CITY OF GARY WATER SYSTEM
Gov. Justice took time out of his briefing to announce that, as of early Wednesday morning, the City of Gary’s water system had been fixed and water service had been restored.
However, the Governor added that the city is still under a boil water advisory for seven days.
Residents can obtain drinking water at Gary City Hall and Rock Hill Baptist Church in Gary.
On Tuesday, at the direction of Gov. Justice, State officials replenished the water supply in Gary, delivering thousands more gallons of drinking water – including a 5,500-gallon water tanker from the West Virginia Division of Highways, 500 gallons stored in water trailers from the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and three pallets, stacked with additional cases of water – to ensure that all residents impacted by the ongoing issue have access to all the clean water they need.
However, Gov. Justice said that, under his watch, the State’s efforts to assist the City of Gary are far from over.
“I’ve dispatched engineers and additional engineers, and additional staff members from the West Virginia Water Development Authority and the Public Service Commission of West Virginia to meet with the City of Gary, the mayor, and other leaders to come up with a long-term solution to this problem beyond just delivering water,” Gov. Justice said Wednesday.
The outage began when the main pump serving the City of Gary water system abruptly stopped working last week, leaving approximately 500 customers without water service. Engineers who evaluated the system determined that the pump was beyond repair and that a new, custom-made pump would need to be purchased and installed because the backup pumps were also not working.
Upon learning of the urgent situation last week, Gov. Justice immediately took action, ordering the West Virginia National Guard and the West Virginia Emergency Management Division to provide all necessary resources to the City of Gary. Acting upon this order, WVEMD ordered an M149 water trailer from the WVNG. The WVNG delivered the trailer, containing 400 gallons of potable water, to Gary City Hall.
SMALL BUSINESS GRANT APPLICATIONS
Also on Wednesday, 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, announcing that funds have begun being distributed.
“Money starting going out today,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re pushing just as hard as we possibly can to keep pumping out more and more money.”
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 Grants.wv.gov.
The application will remain open until Sept. 30, 2020.
CITIES/COUNTIES GRANT FUNDING: $59.4 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 $59.4 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.
Click here to view the map
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.