West Virginia Governor Jim Justice joined state health, education, and emergency response leaders in Charleston today to update residents on precautionary measures being taken to protect the public from the potential spread of novel coronavirus.
There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in West Virginia, though it’s anticipated that the disease will be reported in West Virginia soon.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is providing daily updates on the number of COVID-19 tests and any potential future cases. That information, along with additional alerts and updates, is available online at Coronavirus.wv.gov.
“In our state today, we have been really blessed and sheltered, but, without alarming everyone, we all need to know the seriousness of this continues to be real,” Justice said.
“We’re still trying to do every single thing we can do to be proactive in a state that doesn’t have one positive confirmed person yet. We’re trying to be ready in every way we can possibly be.”
Near the end of the governor's press conference, the U.S. President issued a new set of guidelines for the next 15 days to slow the spread of COVID-19.
These guidelines include avoiding all social gatherings of more than 10 people.
Justice fully supports the guidelines and urges all West Virginians to follow them to ensure everyone is doing their part to help stop the spread of the disease.
Before Monday’s press conference, Justice and several of his cabinet officials took part in a video conference with the president as well as other state and territory governors to discuss preventative measures that also ensure that members of the public have what they need to live their day-to-day lives.
“I am urging all West Virginians, to stay calm, be smart, use great hygiene, take care of the elderly who you can help," Justice said.
"For crying out loud, go to the grocery store for them and just try to look after them.
“The President assured us today that he has been meeting with the leaders of grocery stores across the country. Everyone needs to know that there’s gonna be plenty of food and groceries. You don’t need to make a mad rush on the grocery store.”
The president also told Justice and other video-conference participants that Congress will likely pass legislation to make any potential COVID-19 testing free for all Americans.
In accordance with the president's declaration of a National Emergency, Justice has also declared a State of Emergency for all 55 West Virginia counties.
“Declaring a State of Emergency will open up every resource we’ve got as a State that we can use to fight the spread of this disease,” Justice said.
“This is yet another example of us being as proactive as we possibly can be, even though we don’t have a positive case yet. We are doing everything we can to be prepared so we can help protect all West Virginians.”
STATE OF EMERGENCY DETAILS
The State of Emergency orders the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, West Virginia Division of Homeland Security, and Emergency Management and the West Virginia National Guard to mobilize appropriate personnel and resources to respond to the emergency. It also orders all other state agencies to assist as may be requested and to do everything reasonably possible to assist affected areas and people in the state.
The State of Emergency also delegates administrative powers to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, the Director of the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and the West Virginia National Guard, as necessary, to facilitate the provision of essential emergency services to alleviate the potential impacts to the people, property, and infrastructure of West Virginia that may be caused by this outbreak.
The State of Emergency also orders that it is unlawful for any person, business, or other entity to sell any food items, essential consumer items, and emergency supplies in a manner that violates the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act, which protects the consumer from price gouging and unfair pricing practices during and shortly after the State of Emergency.
The State of Emergency will remain in effect until it is terminated by further proclamation.