CHARLESTON — Governor Jim Justice continued his daily press briefings via YouTube Friday afternoon, providing ongoing updates on the state’s response efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Justice focused on explaining West Virginia’s economy Friday. “That $525 million-dollar deficit is now down to $285 million. The reserve funds we have, we’re going to have plenty of cash to go out until the end of the year, no problem.” He then explained that the reserve funds that the state used will be completely replenished by June 30. “We are going to run across the finish line on June 30 with a surplus… in a year that our experts predicted we were going to be $525 million upside down.” The governor said that he is working on finding correct places to put the grant money and assured that the state is now prepared if another outbreak or pandemic occurs.
This does not include the CARES Act and other grant money flowing in, but Justice showed a graph to explain local government, hospitals and highway projects that will receive the $1.2 billion CARES Act funding. As Justice continued to encourage West Virginia cities and counties to apply and/or reapply for CARES Act grant funding. He then explained that $150 million is available to West Virginia small businesses. Justice reported that the other grants that are not a part of the CARES Act received by the federal government total $907 million. Lastly, Justice assured that $687 million has been set aside for unemployment funds to make sure the state does not raise taxes on businesses.
Justice continued to express concern for the increasing number of Myrtle Beach-related coronavirus cases currently being reported across West Virginia, with over 100 cases in 18 counties now being reported. On the other hand, Justice announced that there are no additional cases linked to transmission from churches in the state. There are now only three cases active in the Huttonsville prison, he reported.
The governor informed residents of Lincoln, McDowell, 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 690 sites across the state offering the Summer Food Assistance Program and pleaded for all to take part in the 2020 United States Census.
An update on the state’s current statistics, as of Friday at 10 a.m.: The WV Cumulative Percent of Tests Positive was at 1.68 percent. The Daily Percentage of Positive Cases showed 0.44 percent. The state’s Fatality Rate currently stands at almost 3.4 percent. The state’s 1,907 recovered cases far exceed the number of active cases at 713. West Virginia has now tested over 9.1 percent of the state’s population, leading the nation’s average of over 8.7 percent. All of these statistics and more can be found on the dashboard at coronavirus.wv.gov.
Justice announced State Health Officer Dr. Cathy Slemp’s resignation after scrutinizing her leadership earlier this week.
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.