Gov. Justice makes plea with residents, announces funding to test college students, faculty and staff members for coronavirus


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Jim Justice wrapped up the month of July by discussing the deaths of five more West Virginians from coronavirus, bringing the state total to 116.

There are 182 new positive cases in the state, according to Justice. This is a record increase in cases, though the governor stated that testing numbers are at a record level, as well. The daily positive rate from Thursday was 2.94%, which was up slightly from Wednesday. This rate has alternated between being higher and lower since last Friday.

Daily percent of positive cases

There are 1,712 active cases of coronavirus in the state, with 4,750 recoveries. Monongalia County has 131 active cases, with 749 recoveries, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources data. A bar closure continues to be in effect there after Justice extended an original 10-day order. That order is scheduled to end Aug. 3 at midnight.

Kanawha County is the current hotspot for active cases, with 277. There have been 492 recoveries there.

Recovered cases and active cases

The 1,712 active cases is the most for a single day, surpassing the total of 1,689 from Sunday, July 26. Despite this increase, the percentage of active cases compared to total cases has improved. On July 26, there were 4,168 recoveries, yielding an active case percentage that day of 28.8% (1,689 active; 4,168 recovered; 5,857 total).

On July 31, the percentage of active cases is 26.5% (1,712 active; 4,750 recovered; 6,462 total).

During his opening remarks, Justice made an impassioned plea with residents to do their part to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Don’t let your guard down, West Virginia,” said Justice. “We’re seeing you do just that. We’re seeing you do greatness, and we’re still seeing people that believe that, ‘Well, I don’t have to wear a mask.’ And, they’re not following the science. They’re not following our president. They’re not following me.”

“They’re saying, ‘That’s my right. I don’t have to do this,'” Justice continued.

“Be afraid, West Virginia, and be concerned. Don’t be fearful, but for crying out loud, you’ve got to have at least enough afraid in you or fear of the consequences of what could happen here that we have got to stay on our game. Can’t back off,” he said.

Justice announced Friday the dedication of $2.5 million for the state’s smaller universities and colleges to go toward testing students for coronavirus. West Virginia University and Marshall University are excluded since they have their own plans in place, Justice said.

“Let’s test everybody,” said Justice. “Let’s test everybody that’s going to be on one of our campuses.

“In-state, out of state, it doesn’t matter. We test everybody, including all the faculty and everybody else,” Justice added.

Fairmont State University President Mirta Martin joined the press briefing Friday to discuss the governor’s funding announcement.

“Today’s announcement that you have earmarked funds to assist us in testing all of our students, faculty and staff is evidence of your resolve to place the needs of our state and of our institutions first,” said Martin.

Free coronavirus testing is being offered in three north central West Virginia counties.

July 31 and Aug. 1, testing is being held in Gilmer County. Testing will run 7 a.m.–3 p.m. both days at the Gilmer County Health Department. On Aug. 1, testing will be held in Marion County. This will run 9 a.m.–4 p.m. at Windmill Park in Fairmont.

A week from Saturday, which is Aug. 8, free testing will be offered in Taylor County. Grafton High School will host testing 8 a.m.–2 p.m.

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