CHARLESTON — Governor Jim Justice continued his daily press briefings via YouTube Wednesday, providing ongoing updates on the state’s response efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Justice addressed the current outbreak linked to the two recent auctions at the Buckhannon Stockyard. He asked all who attended to get tested and to contact their local health department for contact tracing assistance. The Stockyard will not reopen until those who are positive have been released from quarantine. Call the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department at (304) 472-2810 if you have questions or need help.
Justice expressed more concern for the increasing number of Myrtle Beach-related coronavirus cases currently being reported across West Virginia, with 19 outbreaks in 11 counties. He shared the updated number of new cases blamed on beach travel in the following counties: Berkeley - 13, Cabell - 5, Fayette - 1, Greenbrier - 2, Kanawha - 8, Mercer - 1, Putnam - 2, Preston - 32, Raleigh - 6, Ritchie - 1 and Taylor - 1, with the likely possibility of more to come.
The governor announced that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) will be issuing a one-time payment to foster care families and providers to financially help with pandemic hardships. The payment will be based on the number of children in the home or facility, as of the end of June 2020. Payments should be received in July. He also recognized the state’s foster families.
Justice read that WorkForce West Virginia reported that the state’s non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 12.5 percent in May. He also reported that the unemployment rates decreased in every county in the Mountain State.
The governor gave an update on the statewide testing initiative for all correctional facilities, reporting three active cases currently in a Huttonsville prison. All the facilities combined have reportedly tested over 10,000 inmates and 4,000 employees. For the church-related cases, he said there are no additional outbreaks, still currently at three, totaling 68 cases in Ohio, Greenbrier and Boone counties.
Justice continued to encourage West Virginia cities and counties to apply and/or reapply for CARES Act grant funding. He informed residents of Boone, Lincoln, McDowell, Wyoming, Cabell, Hancock, Mingo and Randolph counties of free COVID-19 testing sites available during the next week. The governor also reminded West Virginians of the Summer Food Assistance Program and pleaded for all to take part in the 2020 United States Census.
The governor took time to remember the 2016 West Virginia flood, as Tuesday was the fourth anniversary. “June 23 will live with me forever,” Justice said.
An update on the state’s current statistics, as of Wednesday at 10 a.m.: The WV Cumulative Percent of Tests Positive was at 1.67 percent. The Daily Percentage of Positive Cases showed 1.93 percent. The state’s Fatality Rate currently stands at over 3.5 percent. The state’s 1,821 recovered cases far exceed the number of active cases at 698. West Virginia has now tested almost 8.8 percent of the state’s population, leading the nation’s average of almost 8.4 percent. All of these statistics and more can be found on the dashboard at coronavirus.wv.gov.
West Virginia National Guard Major General James Hoyer reported what the Guard will be working on testing and debris removal. He also reminded West Virginians that Thursday is the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.
Cabinet Secretary of the WVDHHR Bill Crouch announced that the West Virginia Medicaid program increased reimbursement by $37 million to West Virginia eligible nonpublic safety net hospitals in their direct payment program after federal dollars relaxed guidelines.
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.