CHARLESTON — Governor Jim Justice resumed his daily press briefings via YouTube Monday afternoon, providing continual updates on the state’s response efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Justice announced that he is giving all 392 of West Virginia’s fairs and festivals money, totaling $1.46 million from his Governor’s Contingency Fund. He expressed that this does not include the money that all fairs and festivals received from the Legislature’s almost $1.4 million given earlier this year or money for the upcoming year.
The governor mentioned another stimulus package and urged West Virginia to look into available grants, as he mentioned $1.147 billion still available in grant funding. “Get to your legislators, get into that grant program, and see where we can qualify more and more West Virginians to be able to take advantage of that,” he said.
Justice mentioned that 20 new positive cases have been reported out of a Princeton nursing home in Mercer County. West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Bill Crouch further elaborated that out of all 290 patients and staff tested, 31 have tested positive so far and 54 tests are still pending. The National Guard is now testing all employees and residents in effort to control the outbreak.
West Virginia hunting and fishing licenses reportedly increased by over 40 percent in June with over 43,000 issued, compared to 31,000 in June 2019. “Over 50 percent of all of our fishing license sales for this year have been from new, first-time license holders,” Justice said.
During his announcements, the governor updated the state on the number of active cases in Kanawha County, which is currently the state’s highest with 266. Monongalia County now reportedly has 177 active cases. He also reported there are currently 137 cases in church-related outbreaks throughout eight counties: Mason, Boone, Grant, Logan, Kanawha, Raleigh, Taylor and Wood. “For those of you that don’t like wearing a mask, just think how uncomfortable it’d be to wear a ventilator,” Justice emphasized.
The governor reminded small business owners about the CARES Act Small Business Funding. He reminded the residents of Gilmer, Marion and Hampshire counties about the free COVID-19 mobile testing lanes available for the next week. He mentioned once again the 696 sites on the Summer Feeding Program map, and also asked everyone to take part in the 2020 United States Census. Justice reminded cities and counties to apply and reapply for the CARES Act grant funding, as $57.5 million have been disbursed.
Justice updated on the state’s current statistics, as of Monday at 10 a.m.: The WV Cumulative Percent of Tests Positive was at 2.28 percent. The Daily Percentage of Positive Cases rose to 2.43 percent. The state’s 4,191 recovered cases far exceed the number of active cases, which currently stands at 1,703. West Virginia has now tested almost 15 percent of the state’s population, falling behind the nation’s average of almost 15.4 percent. The state’s Fatality Rate currently stands at under 1.8 percent. All of these statistics and more can be found on the dashboard at coronavirus.wv.gov.
Dr. Clay Marsh, WV’s COVID Czar, shared that the state’s Rt value is 1.05 percent. He briefly explained a recent study on outpatient clinic patients, referencing those who were not sick enough to be admitted to the hospital. “Two to three weeks after their infection was done, 35 percent of people still had lingering symptoms; they didn’t feel normal. Importantly, when they looked at the 18 to 34-year-old group, one in five people at about two weeks had not been able to return to work because of the symptoms they were having,” Marsh explained. “If it [COVID-19] doesn’t cause you to go into the hospital and doesn’t cause you to go onto a ventilator, doesn’t mean it’s not a substantial issue.”
Dr. Marsh also discussed that during the period from July 16 to July 24 in Florida, there was a 34 percent increase in positive cases of children age 17 and under, and a 23 percent increase of the same age group being hospitalized.
Major General James Hoyer with the West Virginia National Guard reported on their supportive efforts throughout the state and announced West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (WV VOAD) established a new case management program for COVID-19 resources. It is connected to the United Way so residents can call 2-1-1, or contact West Virginia VOAD at (304) 785-6884 or [email protected] for more information. The National Guard and the Department of Homeland Security also traveled to Gary in McDowell County to help with their water shortage. Lastly, Hoyer announced the 16th anniversary of the passing of WVNG Sgt. DeForest Talbot.