BUCKHANNON – Gov. Jim Justice on Thursday issued a strong warning to people from hard-hit states such as New York who may view West Virginia as a “safe haven” but fail to self-quarantine for 14 days amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I understand that if you’re coming from New York, or some other state that’s a hot spot [for coronavirus infections], that West Virginia may look like a safe haven, a place to come to weather the storm,” Justice said during a 1 p.m. press conference. “But as our president (Trump) has said over and over and over again, if you come from New York or any other hot spot, you need to self-quarantine for 14 days.”
Justice said he takes the self-quarantining precaution very seriously.
“If you don’t abide by this in any and every way, I will do everything I can do protect our citizens from a possible transmission that you may bring to us,” the governor said. “I want our local health officials to be aware that these people are supposed to self-quarantine for 14 days.”
The governor said he welcomes visitors and part-time residents who have not developed symptoms following that quarantine period, however.
“After that period if you want to come here and stay, we embrace you beyond belief,” Justice said, “but you have got to understand that I take it really seriously that you self-quarantine for 14 days.”
In other COVID-related news, Justice announced that he was making Dr. Clay Marsh, WVU’s executive dean for Health Sciences and head of the WVU School of Medicine, the state’s COVID-19 ‘czar.’
“Just from the standpoint of taking this one step further … we have solicited WVU to give him to us on loan,” Justice said. “It gives us one more layer of expertise, one more layer of affiliation with hospitals … because we can get so focused [on containing coronavirus] that we can absolutely lose a lot of attention medical wellness of whole population.”
“I’m really pleased that Clay’s going to come on board, and I haven’t had the opportunity as governor to make someone a ‘czar’ yet but making Clay Marsh a ‘czar’ – well, it’s just appropriate, that’s all I can say,” Justice added.
The governor urged residents to not to panic, but did say state health officials “need to be dialed in to the wellness of the highest risk state in the nation” to make sure West Virginia doesn’t have a high number of COVID-related fatalities.
Justice said he’s been in communication with the White House over the past two days, and as a result of the $2 trillion economic stimulus package, an “incredible” amount of money will flow into the state.
“There’s going to be many, many, many opportunities for small businesses provided that they continue to employ our workers,” the governor said, emphasizing it’s important that employers continue to allow employees to work from home.
Justice said he expects money to arrive in people’s bank accounts and pockets much sooner than it normally would.
“This is not going to move at a snail’s pace like most government things,” he said. “This is moving at light speed. From a business standpoint, this [stimulus] is going to give you the ability and road map to get dollars to you and maybe take a ton of stress off you.”
Adult taxpayers who make $75,000 or below will receive a $1,200 check, while married couples who make $150,000 a year or below will receive $2,400. Individuals and couples who fall within those thresholds will also receive $500 per child age 16 or under, according to multiple media reports.
Finally, Justice said he wanted to reassure homeless people and those dealing with addiction that the state hasn’t forgotten about them.
“Please understand that we are on this and we recognize this crisis and we want you to continue to get treatment,” he said. “That’s not something we’re ignoring.”