CHARLESTON — Governor Jim Justice resumed his daily press briefings via YouTube Thursday, providing continual updates on the state’s response efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Justice announced Thursday that swimming pools, bowling alleys, pool halls, roller rinks and other indoor amusement facilities will join spas, massage businesses and limited video lottery retailers in reopening on Saturday, May 30. The governor held off reopening movie theaters and casinos until June 5.
Justice took time to address graduation questions and asked Superintendents, Boards of Education, high schools and health departments to work out a way to safely hold graduation for the 2020 graduating classes throughout the state. “Our Department of Ed. right now is pouring on to try to figure out what they can do...it may very well be something that is delayed even until after the middle of July, but they’re working and I’m behind it whole-heartedly,” Justice said. “These kids deserve it.”
Justice gave an update on the current state statistics as of Thursday. The governor showed the WV Positive Growth Rate stands at 3.1 percent. The WV Cumulative Percent of Tests Positive was 1.92 percent. The state’s Fatality Rate currently stands at almost 4.4 percent. The 983 recovered cases exceed the number of active cases at 533. West Virginia has tested 4.6 percent of the state’s population, higher than the nation’s average of 3.8 percent. All of these statistics and more can be found on the dashboard at coronavirus.wv.gov.
Thursday, Justice reported that the Eastern Panhandle numbers are concerning. Justice sent the state’s National Guard to help out and asked those residents to wear masks and stay cautious. “The level of inconvenience from wearing a mask is miniscule, miniscule compared to the benefit,” Justice pleaded. “If we just sit back and do nothing and let it go, it’s going to brew into something that’s not going to be good.”
The governor reminded and encouraged cities and counties to continue to apply for the CARES Act grant funding. To apply, go to grants.wv.gov or call the helpline at 1-833-94-GRANT, or 1-833-944-7268. He also took time to thank West Virginia State Auditor John B. McCuskey for the work his office is doing during this time.
Justice reminded those in Cabell, Kanawha, Monongalia and Marion counties to get tested at the free COVID-19 testing sites on May 22 and May 23 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Once again, Justice asked West Virginians to take part in the United States 2020 Census in order to receive accurate federal funding for the next 10 years.
Major General James Hoyer with the West Virginia National Guard updated that the Guard is proceeding with testing at Huttonsville Correctional Center, as well as working at the test lanes in Cabell, Kanawha, Monongalia and Marion counties, and the Eastern panhandle to control the spike.
COVID-19 Czar Dr. Clay Marsh commented more on the Eastern Panhandle. “Whatever we see today, has likely been going on for about two weeks. If we don’t get a handle on things, it can take two weeks for us to get things back under control,” Marsh explained. “As each one of you out there do the things that you can do, including wearing a mask and face covers, we’ll be able to do this successfully and safely, and again be an example for the rest of the country.”
Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bill Crouch reminded West Virginians that the WV DHHR Bureau of Public Health provides free vaccines for eligible children through age 18. For more information, call 1-800-642-3634 or visit oeps.wv.gov.