Gov. Justice discusses school re-entry, extracurricular activities during Aug. 31 coronavirus press briefing


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Jim Justice closed out the month of August with a coronavirus press briefing.

Justice began Monday’s briefing by talking about 12 new coronavirus deaths in the state since Friday. There are 140 new positive cases in the last day.

Out of 10,250 total cases in West Virginia, 8,017 are recoveries, while 2,019 are active.

This is the first briefing the governor has held since the first Saturday night school re-entry and activities map was released Aug. 29. Four counties in the state, Kanawha, Fayette, Logan and Monroe, will not be able to host sporting events after being in the orange or red in that first map. No counties in north central West Virginia are in the orange or red categories.

However, Justice gave the three counties in orange, Kanawha, Fayette and Logan, another opportunity to hold sports. He said Monday that all athletes on various sports teams (including marching bands and other activities) will be tested for coronavirus. If everyone on the team tests negative, that team will be allowed to compete; however, one positive case will keep that team from competing this week.

“We’re going to test every athlete in those three counties, immediately. We’re going to test all the coaching staff, all those that are involved, the bands, everybody in those three counties,” said Justice.

“If the football team tests, and they’re all good to go, we play the football game. If the volleyball team tests, they’re all good to go, we play volleyball games. If the soccer team tests, we play soccer. If the band…tests positive, you know, with one of the people in the band that tests positive, the band can’t play,” Justice added.

“It’s just that simple.”

Justice said Monroe County, which is in the red, will not be allowed to compete.

Further, the governor stated this effort to help counties in the orange is a one-time event. This will not be done every week for counties that are in the orange category, he said.

“It’s an opportunity that we have, and it’s a one-time deal. This is it. This is a one-time deal. We’re not going to go forward with it because we don’t have the resources to go forward,” said Justice. “What if we end up in a situation in the middle of the s—in the middle of the season, we’ve got eight counties that are orange, and we say, ‘We’ll, we’d like to test them all’? We can’t do that.

“So, everyone needs to know, and, everyone needs to know right now, right this minute, if you were in the yellow by the map, on Saturday night, you play. If you were in the orange, we’ve gotta get you tested, and then we gotta get everybody passed. And, if everybody passes, you can play. If they don’t, you can’t play. It’s just that simple,” Justice continued.

Justice quickly touched on the reopening of bars in Monongalia County. After multiple extensions of a mandatory bar closure, the governor set the end of August as a time to allow them to open again. He said if things do not go well, he will shut them down once again.

“We’re excited to be able to get these businesses back to work. However, you know, we’re just, we caution them in every way to do any and everything that they can do to follow the guidelines, and we’ll be watching it,” said Justice.

“If we gotta shut ’em back down, we’ll shut ’em back down.”

On the unemployment front, residents who qualify will be receiving $400 per week, in addition to the amount they normally would receive for such benefits. According to Justice, this is retroactive back to Aug. 1.

Also, some changes are coming to the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles. The DMV will now allow six people inside its locations at one time, Justice said.

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