WEST VIRGINIA — West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has been holding live press conferences daily via YouTube to address the state’s citizens with the most up to date COVID-19 information. The Mountain State’s first positive coronavirus test in the Eastern Panhandle was confirmed in Justice’s Tuesday evening briefing. However, Governor Justice repeatedly tried to assure those watching not to panic numerous times during the address.
“We knew it was coming. We prepared for this and we shouldn’t panic. We should be cautious. We should be concerned. But we should not panic. We should go ahead and try to live our lives as best we can. But again, we should not panic,” Justice stated Tuesday evening.
Justice also informed the state Tuesday evening that he was closing all restaurants, bars and casinos. Restaurants and bars will be permitted to continue with carry-out and delivery orders. These places are high risk areas for the coronavirus to spread. Schools and universities have already closed down, while hospitals and nursing homes are enforcing strict new visitation policies. In a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, the Governor closed gyms, health clubs, and recreational centers for two weeks. Justice also pleaded businesses who can have their employees work from home do so.
“Because if by chance, I left a stone unturned, and at the end of the day, you know, in trying to do something to cure an inconvenience or cure an economic issue, I exposed others to a situation to where you lost a loved one — How do we overcome that? How do we replace that? And it just can’t be done,” Justice said Tuesday.
On Wednesday afternoon, Justice again emphasized social isolation and stated, “Home is the key to everything here... Let people go home... We’ve got to go home… We’ve got to get away from each other.” Justice also bragged on our businesses, because “they’re doing exactly what they need to have done.”
Justice also informed the public Wednesday afternoon of the state’s unemployment claims filed in West Virginia that reportedly spiked yesterday. “For the unemployment claims, we had 1,200 yesterday, with 5,300 in the month of February. So, from that standpoint you can just see that if we stay on that pace, we’d have 25 or 30,000 versus 5,300, and it’s going to get worse. This is a very, very, very serious moment,” Justice stated.
The Governor asked West Virginians to do “something really special” Tuesday evening and implored them to “use our power” to keep distance away from each other. “Our power to combat this disease is being apart from one another. Our power is already at work in that our communities are diverse in their different spots and our mountains and all the things that are already working for us,” Justice said.
Justice also asked the state to take seriously the hygiene recommendations and the ability to stay six feet apart from one another and avoid crowds, even crowded grocery stores. He encouraged the people to help our elderly and to grocery shop for them.
“We have to use our power. Our power that we feel like is inconveniencing us and hurting us, is our power to destroy this terrible disease. Our power is to be apart — be apart, be smart, look after each other and try in every way, shape, form or fashion to move ourselves forward,” Justice said.
In his Wednesday address, Justice emphasized, “Every day that goes by, we get better. Absolutely, without any doubt whatsoever, if we continue to listen to what I am telling you, we’ll be better and better and better. If we don’t, people will die, because of our lack of absolute volunteerism in trying to keep us apart and use our power. Our power, if we don’t use it, will cost people’s lives.”
Justice closed the conference with these final words, “And lastly, I just say these words: by the grace of God shepherding us in every way shape, form or fashion, we’ll get through this, will win and will protect our people to the best of all of our abilities. Again, I thank you for joining me tonight. And I’ll be with you thick or thin till the very, very end in every way and we’re going to win. We’re going to beat this bad, bad disease. Thank you in every way. God bless you.”
After the conference, an informative message displayed for the viewers: “Stay up to date on COVID-19: coronavirus.gov Questions? Call our 24/7, toll-free COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-887-4304.”
West Virginia was the last state in the United States to confirm a positive coronavirus test. As of press time Wednesday, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources reported 122 negative cases, 1 positive case and 14 tests pending.