Gov. establishes $50m fund to ensure school safety


CHARLESTON — Governor Jim Justice concluded his daily press briefings for the week via YouTube Friday afternoon, providing continual updates on the state’s response efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Justice announced that the School Opening Panel will review all the information gathered from each county and release the County Alert Map for the first week of school Saturday night at 9 p.m. “From that, I am very, very hopeful that a great percentage of our state will be back at school,” Justice said. “I can’t thank all the powers that be that have worked so diligently on this.” He then addressed and clearly explained that if a county decides to go 100 percent remote upon parental choice, even despite not being in the “Red,” they cannot continue sports.

The governor then announced that he, along with his revenue department, have set aside an additional $50 million from the CARES Act funding to provide additional personal protective equipment and COVID-19 testing. He explained that the federal government provided $91 million to the schools for back to school preparations.

Justice directed the West Virginia National Guard and West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to form a vaccine preparation task force so the state will be prepared when the time comes.

The governor also announced he is sending $5,000 to veterans’ organizations throughout the state, totaling $1.95 million, and looking into the possibility of doubling the offer later on.

Justice proudly reflected on the press briefing held Wednesday afternoon to discuss an economic announcement about broadband internet. “Everybody was working in an absolute bipartisan way for the goodness of West Virginians, to be able to bring $766 million into this state for the construction of broadband to people who did not have access today. One hundred and 21 thousand homes,” Justice emphasized. “This was THE step to bring West Virginia into the future.”

The state’s current statistics, as of Friday at 10 a.m. on the coronavirus.wv.gov dashboard: The County Alert map shows most counties are in the “Yellow” or “Green,” except Putnam, Kanawha, Wayne, Logan, Mingo and Mercer in the “Orange” and Monongalia and Monroe in the “Red.” The WV Cumulative Percent of Tests Positive was at 2.46 percent. The Daily Percentage of Positive Cases rose to 4.96 percent. The state’s 8,450 recovered cases far exceed the number of active cases, which reached a record high of 2,344. Hospitalization increased to 152 patients on Friday, but the state’s Fatality Rate still stands at just over 2.2 percent. West Virginia has now tested over 25.23 percent of the state’s population, once again leading the nation’s average of just over 24 percent. West Virginia’s Rt value is reportedly the worst in the nation now at 1.28 percent, tracked at https://rt.live/.

West Virginia National Guard’s Adjutant General James Hoyer stated that they have received the certification to start testing antibodies within their mobile labs.

Dr. Clay Marsh, COVID-19 Czar, reminded West Virginians to stay cautious about preventing the spread of COVID-19 during the holiday weekend.

WV DHHR Cabinet Secretary Bill Crouch announced that September is National Recovery Month and announced that the DHHR’s Office of Drug Control Policy will be holding a virtual prevention summit “Prioritizing Prevention in West Virginia” on September 16. Resources can be found at www.WVPreventionSummit.org or by calling 1-844-HELP4WV or 1-844-435-7498.

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