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The West Virginia State Capitol Building gleams in the sunlight in this aerial shot. / Photo courtesy of Robbie Skinner

Governor closes restaurants, bars, casinos as West Virginia reports first confirmed COVID-19 case

Governor Jim Justice said West Virginia has confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The positive test was reported in the eastern panhandle, Justice said in a news briefing Tuesday evening.

West Virginia was the last state in the country to report a confirmed case of COVID-19. Justice did not say how many tests had been performed; a day earlier, the number was just 84.

“Tonight I’m going to give you a pathway to solving this problem,” Justice said before ordering the closure of all dine-in restaurants, bars and casinos.

“I am mandating we close our restaurants, our bars, our casinos,” Justice announced.

Takeout is still permitted, the governor added. The order is effective at 12 a.m. on Wednesday, March 18.

Regarding the first confirmed test, health officials would not say whether the patient was high risk, what county they live in or how long they are believed to have had the virus.

“This is a once-in-all-of-our-lifetimes event that is happening here,” Justice said. “This is real, and it’s really concerning.”

“If we stand back asleep at the switch, then this thing grabs hold, and then we cover up our medical professionals and our hospitals with people that are really sick,” Justice said in urging residents to follow all health recommendations. “We’ve got to be in this boat together… I’ll be with you, thick or thin, to the end, and we’re going to beat this thing.”

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