CHARLESTON — Governor Jim Justice concluded his press briefings for the week via YouTube Friday afternoon, providing continual updates on the state’s response efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor re-explained the process and plan of distributing the state’s CARES Act grant, after recent confusion and criticism. The chart displayed on the screen provided a breakdown of where the money went and how much was utilized from the $1.19 billion allocated. The splits included $40 million to the Small Business Grant Program, $200 million to local governments, $50 million to the National Guard for testing and personal protective equipment, $50 million for broadband projects, $50 million for medical access highways, $287 million for unemployment benefits before July 1 and $300 million after July 1 until December 30, $10 million to the Fairmont Hospital, $25 million to public service districts, $57 million for state expense reimbursement for the fourth quarter of 2020, $96 million for state expense reimbursement for the first two quarters of 2021, and $25 million to the emergency fund reimbursement.
The governor announced that following Bob Hansen’s retirement, Dr. Matthew Christiansen is appointed as the Director of the DHHR Office of Drug Control Policy.
Justice announced that West Virginia is submitting the state’s vaccine plan for CDC approval. “This is not just nothing, this is an absolutely amazing report,” he explained.
He announced that the West Virginia Office of Tourism released a weekly fall color map to show the tremendous fall color across the state, as this is “One of the best years for fall colors in the past decade.” He then announced that Fall Trout Stocking begins Monday, October 19.
The governor continued his regular announcements by sharing that there are currently 21 outbreaks linked to school systems, with 57 confirmed cases, and 12 active church-related outbreaks, including one in Upshur County.
The governor also mentioned outbreaks in 43 long-term care facilities. He continued with updates on correctional facilities throughout the state, including eight active inmate cases, and 14 active staff cases. Justice also continued to remind residents to get their flu shots, as flu season approaches.
Justice reminded local officials to apply and reapply for the CARES Act grant funding, which has already awarded over $152 million to 191 cities and counties, before the December 31 deadline. He reminded the residents of Hancock, Marshall, Monongalia, Marion, Doddridge, Harrison, Taylor, Upshur, Randolph, Hampshire, Morgan, Berkeley, Wood, Wirt, Jackson, Roane, Braxton, Mason, Putnam, Kanawha, Fayette, Nicholas, Cabell, Lincoln, Boone, Raleigh, Wayne, Mingo, Logan, and Wyoming counties about the free COVID-19 mobile testing lanes available for the next two weeks, pleading for all who can to get tested. Justice reported that the nation is averaging around 60,000 positive tests a day.
The state’s current statistics, as of Friday at 10 a.m. on the coronavirus.wv.gov dashboard: Different from the School Alert map, the County Alert map shows most counties in the “Green,” 16 counties in the “Yellow,” Jefferson, Marshall, Wood, Pendleton, Upshur, Gilmer and Clay counties in the “Gold,” with, Berkeley, Morgan, Wirt, Randolph, Mingo and Wyoming in the “Orange,” and Doddridge County in the “Red.” The WV Cumulative Percent of Tests Positive was at 2.83 percent. The Daily Percentage of Positive Cases dropped to 2.99 percent. The state’s 14,269 recovered cases far exceed the number of active cases, at 4,915. Hospitalization was at 188 patients, but the state’s Fatality Rate still stands at over 2.01 percent, with 396 deaths attributed to COVID-19. West Virginia has now tested almost 37.5 percent of its population, leading the nation’s average of over 35.6 percent. West Virginia’s Rt value remains under one percent, as it reports the fifth best Rt in the nation at 0.99 percent, as tracked at https://rt.live/.
WV National Guard Major Adjutant General James Hoyer reported that a member of the National Guard passed from COVID-19. “I know we think sometimes it’s our right not to wear a mask, or it’s our right not to do this. I ask us to take exception to that and think about our responsibility to others,” Hoyer said. “It’s not until you get to it right up in your face at a personal level do you understand the toll this takes on families.”
State Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad reminded West Virginians that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and recommends all women over the age of 40 to get a breast cancer screening. She also warned residents that there is a United Caucus website sharing inaccurate information about COVID-19 situations in the schools.