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Governor: Week 1 of reopening plan to commence Thursday, Week 2 begins Monday, May 4

CHARLESTON – West Virginia is officially open for (a very limited amount of) business.

Week 1 of West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s reopening plan for the state will commence Thursday, April 30, the governor announced during his daily COVID-19 press briefing.

Justice said as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, the state had met the benchmark of having three consecutive days with a cumulative percentage of COVID-19 positive cases below 3 percent.

“We’ve met our metric – it’s been under 3 percent for three days,” Justice said. “We were 2.69 (Monday), 2.66 (Tuesday), and today we’re coming in at 2.59 percent, so tomorrow officially opens West Virginia for the ‘Week 1’ businesses that were in addition to the elective procedures and hospitals … so ‘Week 1’ businesses may begin operations tomorrow.”

According to Justice’s “West Virginia Strong – The Comeback” plan, this means testing of daycare staff could begin Thursday, April 30, and outpatient health care operations, such as primary care doctors, dentists, physical/occupational therapy and psychological and mental health services have the option to open their doors but are not required to do so.

“We’re telling them they can open, but not that they have to open,” the governor said.

Justice said ‘Week 2’ of his plan will begin Monday, May 4, meaning many professional services, including hair salons, nail salons, barbershops and pet grooming services may open that day, provided the state’s cumulative percent of positive tests remains below 3 percent.

According to the Comeback guidelines, which can be found on the governor’s website here, outdoor dining at restaurants will be permitted with strict physical distancing guidelines and limited gathering sizes at church and funeral services will also be allowed. (Justice has urged churchgoers to sit every other pew and to wear masks if attending in-person services.)

Justice and COVID-19 czar Dr. Clay Marsh said Week 2 businesses that reopen May 4 will be mandated to increase sanitation, practice physical distancing and require the wearing of face coverings.

Justice said Weeks 3-6 would begin on each Monday of the subsequent week, and additional guidelines would be supplied about a week in advance.

The governor heaped praise on residents, saying, “I was on a national TV show earlier today, and I said, ‘We have witnessed the miracle of West Virginia, and the miracle has been you, as West Virginians.’ You have absolutely punched all the right buttons as we’ve gone along.”

In other local COVID-19 news, Justice noted that residents at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg had been tested for the virus, and all 306 patients returned negative results.

Justice also delivered some demographic information about the West Virginia residents who died of COVID-19, noting the average age is 78.

“We’ve had 35 people die from ages 65 to 98 years old, we’ve had four people die who were between the ages of 50 and 65, and we lost a young man who was 25, and I hate that like crazy,” the governor said. “It tells us so very clearly one thing – this disease is after our old, so just remember how absolutely vulnerable our elderly are.”

“So, don’t ease up now — wash your hands, and for crying out loud, if you’re going to be in a crowd of people, wear a mask,” he stressed.

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