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.
STATEWIDE SOCIAL GATHERING LIMIT REDUCED TO 25 INDIVIDUALS
With the daily number of new COVID-19 cases continuing to climb across West Virginia, Gov. Justice announced Monday that he has issued an executive order reducing the statewide social gathering limit from 100 to 25 individuals.
“We want everyone to know this is not playtime stuff,” Gov. Justice said. “We now, in West Virginia, have 1,338 active cases. We have grown 206 active cases since I saw you the last time on Friday.
“We are in great shape with our hospitals. But there’s no guarantee that it’s going to stay that way,” Gov. Justice continued. “So we have got to significantly restrict the crowd size again.”
The 25-person limitation applies only to purely social gatherings. It does not apply to any activity, business, or entity that has been deemed essential, such as religious services, weddings, or group meetings, conferences, or other special events held for essential businesses and operations, as defined by Executive Order 9-20, as amended. Such meetings, conferences, or other special events will need to plan for social distancing between attendees based on CDC recommendations.
This order will go into effect beginning Tuesday, July 14, 2020, at 12:01 a.m.
FAIRS, FESTIVALS, CONCERTS, SIMILAR EVENTS CLOSED STATEWIDE
Additionally on Monday, Gov. Justice announced that the same executive order also closes all fairs, festivals, and similar events, and prohibits both indoor and outdoor concerts statewide.
“It’s no fun to close things,” Gov. Justice said. “But we’ve got to do the things that are going to be the prudent things for all West Virginians, so we can still do many of the things that we love to do.”
MONONGALIA COUNTY BARS ORDERED CLOSED FOR 10 DAYS
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice announced that he has issued another executive order, closing all bars in Monongalia County for 10 days, after seeing a significant spike in positive cases in the area in recent days.
“This is a real hotspot,” Gov. Justice said. “Their rise in active cases and the number of community-based outbreaks is extremely concerning. With their current active cases at 340, we must act right now to stop this from getting any worse.
“Students are coming back to school and a huge threat is the students congregating at the bars,” Gov. Justice continued. “During that 10-day period, I am very hopeful that what’s going to happen is that we’re going to begin to see a correction in the numbers.”
Gov. Justice pointed out that, according to recent information from the Texas Medical Association, going to bars ranks among the riskiest activities possible when it comes to furthering the spread of COVID-19.
View full chart: TexMed.org
Monongalia County restaurants that also include bars will have their bars closed, but will be permitted to continue restaurant service, including the sale of alcoholic beverages to dine-in customers.
This order will also go into effect beginning Tuesday, July 14, 2020, at 12:01 a.m.
GOVERNOR AGAIN URGES CHURCHGOERS TO FOLLOW SAFETY GUIDELINES
After receiving reports of large church gatherings in various places across the state this weekend, Gov. Justice again urged all West Virginians to wear face coverings and properly social distance from one another to help prevent further spread of COVID-19.
“It is absolutely mandatory that you wear a mask to church and it is only the smart thing to do,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re going the wrong way here. We’ve got to get this thing turned around and going the way we want it to go.
“I’m a Christian and I’m really proud of it,” Gov. Justice continued. “I truly understand the importance of church and I understand that it is the highest priority in our lives and I get it.
“But then I see a photo of one of our church settings and there’s no one anywhere in the congregation that’s got a mask on. There’s no pews in-between people. We’re just asking for it.
“I don’t question our love. But, at the same time, we cannot keep doing this. We just can’t.”
APPLICATIONS: WEST VIRGINIA CARES ACT SMALL BUSINESS GRANT PROGRAM
Additionally Monday, Gov. Justice announced that applications will soon be available online 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 February 29, 2020, with 1-35 employees, will be able to apply for up to $5,000 in grant funding per business.
Businesses planning to apply must first register as a vendor with the State. Guidelines for the grants and instructions on how to apply are available at Grants.wv.gov.
ADDITIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS NOW AVAILABLE
The Governor also announced Monday that, per WorkForce West Virginia, any worker who has exhausted their regular state unemployment and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits may now apply for Extended Benefits.
Under federal law, Extended Benefits offer up to an additional 13 weeks of benefits to workers who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits and 13 weeks of PEUC assistance.
Applications for Extended Benefits are now available at WorkForceWV.org.
FREE TESTING: BARBOUR, BERKELEY, HARRISON, JEFFERSON, AND MERCER COUNTIES
Gov. Justice also announced that the next round of free community COVID-19 testing will continue through this week at various dates and times in Barbour, Berkeley, Harrison, Jefferson, and Mercer 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.
Testing is scheduled as follows:
Thursday, July 16
11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Philip Barbour High School: 99 Horseshoe Drive, Philippi, WV
Friday, July 17 & Saturday, July 18
7 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Patriot Antique Center and Flea Market: 615 King Street, Martinsburg, WV
Tuesday, July 14
12 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Robert C. Byrd High School: 1 Eagle Way, Clarksburg, WV
Friday, July 17 & Saturday, July 18
7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Ranson Civic Center: 432 W. 2nd Avenue, Ranson, WV
Friday, July 17
9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Mercer County Health Department: 978 Blue Prince Road, Bluefield, WV
TAX FILING DEADLINE THIS WEDNESDAY: JULY 15, 2020
Gov. Justice also took time out of his address to remind all West Virginians that income tax returns, which were originally due April 15, 2020, are now due this Wednesday, July 15, 2020.
On March 26, 2020, Gov. Jim Justice extended the April 15, 2020 filing deadline by three months in response to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor’s decision aligns with federal income tax relief provisions issued March 20 by the Internal Revenue Service in response to the coronavirus.
This three-month extension applies to income taxes and returns for individuals, corporations, fiduciaries, and pass-through entities, including declarations of estimated tax that would have been due April 15, 2020. If the taxes due April 15, 2020 are paid by July 15, 2020, no interest or additions to tax will apply.
More information is available at Tax.wv.gov.
DMV EXTENSION ON DRIVER AND VEHICLE TRANSACTIONS
Gov. Justice also took time to offer a reminder that the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) recently announced that they are once again extending many driver and vehicle transaction deadlines to Sept. 30, 2020.
These extensions include drivers’ licenses and vehicle registrations.
Additional information and services related to the DMV are available at dmv.wv.gov or by calling 304-558-3938.
CITIES/COUNTIES GRANT FUNDING: $39.3 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 $39.3 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.
More than 690 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.