Justice discourages Thanksgiving travel


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

Justice discouraged holiday travel, as he announced it may increase your chances of getting and spreading the coronavirus. “Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year,” Justice stated. “Celebrating virtually or with people that you live with is the safest choice this Thanksgiving.”

The governor announced that Pfizer applied for emergency use authorization of the preliminarily 95 percent effective COVID-19 vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration Friday. Once approved, he said it will be distributed quickly. However, Justice reminded West Virginians that the best defense in stopping the spread is wearing masks and keeping a safe, social distance until the vaccine becomes available.

Justice announced that Gun Buck/Deer Season starts Monday, but then asked hunters to abide by the laws and stay safe.

After announcing a new COVID-19 testing map, available on the coronavirus.wv.gov website, the governor reported 91,000 West Virginians have been tested in the last week, with a new all-time high of 17,000 on Wednesday alone. He also reported that since his executive order requiring doctors, nurses, staff and other employees working at West Virginia nursing homes and other assisted living facilities be tested twice a week, there have been asymptomatic positive cases in 11 facilities.

Justice continued his regular announcements by sharing there are currently 24 outbreaks linked to school systems, with 88 confirmed cases, and 22 active church-related outbreaks. He also mentioned outbreaks in 101 long-term care facilities. He continued with updates on correctional facilities throughout the state, with 226 inmates and 25 staff positive cases at the Stevens Correctional Center. In addition, there are 10 active inmates and 34 active staff cases throughout the state. Justice also continued to remind residents to get their flu shots, as flu season approaches.

The governor reminded those who need assistance paying their delinquent utility bills from March to July 31 to apply for funding from the $25 million allocated by the CARES Act grant. He also reminded local officials to apply and reapply for the CARES Act grant funding before the December 31 deadline, which has awarded over $186 million to cities and counties in the state. All but nine counties will offer free COVID-19 mobile testing lanes and the governor pleaded for all who can to get tested, especially before Thanksgiving.

The state’s current statistics, as of Friday at 10 a.m. on the coronavirus.wv.gov dashboard are as follows: Different from the School Alert map, the County Alert map shows only 10 counties in the “Green,” just 12 counties in the “Yellow,” Wetzel, Preston, Grant, Harrison, Taylor, Upshur, Ritchie, Nicholas, Clay, Kanawha, Lincoln, Mingo and Monroe counties in the “Gold,” with Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Jefferson, Berkeley, Hampshire, Barbour, Wirt, Mason, Putnam, Cabell, Wayne, Boone and Wyoming counties in the “Orange,” and Berkeley, Mineral, Hardy Marshall, Wood, and Jackson counties in the “Red.” The WV Cumulative Percent of Tests Positive was at 3.42 percent. The Daily Percentage of Positive Cases decreased to 4.77 percent. The state’s 25,664 recovered cases far exceed the number of active cases, at 12,177. Hospitalization was at 402 patients, but the state’s Fatality Rate still stands under 1.7 percent, with 639 deaths attributed to COVID-19. West Virginia has now tested over 55.6 percent of its population, leading the nation’s average of just over 51.9 percent. West Virginia’s Rt value is at 1.13 percent, as tracked at https://rt.live/.

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