CHARLESTON — In Monday afternoon’s press briefing, Governor Jim Justice issued a “Stay at Home Order” telling all West Virginia residents to stay home and practice social distancing immediately. Justice also included in Executive Order No. 9-20 that all non-essential businesses must temporarily cease operations by Tuesday at 8 p.m.
Justice urged everyone to stay inside, help the elderly and work from home if you can. He does not want to close the whole state because he wants essential businesses to stay open as long as possible. Residents can go to work if it is deemed an essential business, but the Governor urged those who can to work from home. Justice said residents may go to places of worship, medical appointments, the grocery stores and pharmacies to pick up necessities. He suggested to order delivery or go to restaurants for take-out or drive-thru options as needed. Care for friends and family if needed, getting them supplies if they cannot, Justice said. He added that you may walk pets and take them to the vet if needed. Justice emphasized that he is not closing the state’s borders or roads, but asserted that if residents do not comply with the order, law enforcement will have to step in. Those who still fail to comply with law enforcement will be charged with obstruction of justice.
Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia University’s Vice President and Executive Dean for Health Sciences, shared some statistics during the briefing. “As New York City has experienced, if you don’t stop the rate of spread, then the rate can start to create a surge or tsunami wave that then affects the health care workers. And we look again at the mortality rates around the world. If you can control the rate of spread and not have this surge, the mortality from this disease is one percent. If this surge happens, then the incidence of death is 3-5 percent,” Marsh said.
Marsh also shared that in the United States, 38 percent of patients in the hospital from this disease are less than 55 years old. “So, I think it’s really important that young people out there don’t feel like somehow they have a free pass from this because they haven’t. So, it’s just as important that young people in our communities maintain safe distance, maintain good handwashing and also pay extreme attention to what Governor Justice has said,” Marsh emphasized.
Justice announced that, as of Sunday evening at 7 p.m., West Virginia had 16 positive cases. One case was a nursing home in Monongalia County, which is the first known case of community transmission that did not involve travel. Public Health authorities reportedly traveled to the nursing home and quickly tested everyone at the facility.
Justice reported that 49 hospitals are now submitting tests to public and private labs, and 19 communities are providing testing. He said 1,500 people have now been tested and are awaiting results. Justice also said there is a vehicle en route to pick up needed supplies and protective suits from Maryland.
Justice assured that the kids of West Virginia will be fed. The Governor also has been talking to medical schools to provide assistance and dorm rooms if there is an overflow number of patients. Justice reported West Virginia University and Marshall University both are willing to help. Unemployment Claims are being filed at lightning speed and Justice added that 17,000 claims were processed last week, with that trend expected to continue.
Justice ordered state park cabins and restrooms to now be closed to the public, but said streams, trails and golf courses are still open. Just stay at least 6 feet away from others and practice good hygiene if using outdoor recreation during this time.
Justice declared Wednesday, March 25 as a Day of State Prayer in West Virginia, inviting all religious leaders to come together. “If there’s any time, now is the time when we need to be looking to God above for any assistance in any and every way we possibly can,” Justice said.
Buckhannon Mayor David McCauley reached out to The Record Delta in response to Justice’s briefing. “I believe the Governor’s response was the next step that many of us thought he was going to take Saturday. While restriction of our daily activities is never pleasant, it is something that very much is in the best interest of our citizenry,” McCauley said. “This action will help prevent contracting of the virus, and thus will save lives. I believe even more stringent actions could prove forthcoming as our inevitable spike in COVID-19 incidents is yet to come. If we can act sensibly as a community, we can minimize the spread of this horrible virus.”
McCauley also said he met with Buckhannon’s Director of Finance and Administration Amby Jenkins and Buckhannon’s Public Works Director Jerry Arnold after the Governor’s briefing to discuss additional precautionary measures involving Buckhannon’s staffing that will be announced Tuesday. “We need to do all that we can to protect the safety of our staff so that they can continue to perform their jobs for us all,” McCauley emphasized.