Gov. Justice shuts down bars in Monongalia County during Monday coronavirus press briefing


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Jim Justice remains concerned about the direction West Virginia is heading in terms of new coronavirus cases.

West Virginia now has 1,338 active cases, an increase of 206 since Justice’s press briefing last Friday. 62 people are currently hospitalized, according to Justice.

As for Monongalia County, Justice said it has 340 active cases, which is slightly more than a quarter of all current cases.

“They have grown nearly 194 since Friday,” Justice said. “They’re growing absolutely at an alarming rate from the age of 20 to 29 years of age. That level today…in Mon County, is at twice the level of any other age group.”

“Today, I am ordering the bars in Mon County to close for 10 days, and during that 10 day period, I am very hopeful that what’s gonna happen is we’re going to begin to see a correction in the numbers,” said Justice. “What we’ve got going on in Mon County is we’ve got a tremendous amount of students that are now, have now come back, and we have got a situation in the age group from 20 to 29 years of age, and absolutely, you know, it is an issue and a problem.

“For right now, the restaurants we’re gonna leave the same. The bars in Mon County we’re gonna close.”

Justice said he hopes during that time, local health officials will help the bars to be able to comply with the guidelines that were issued for them.

Gatherings are also being restricted from 100 people down to 25.

Any fairs, festivals or outdoor concerts, we’re not gonna have ’em. We’re gonna close,” Justice said.

The governor also brought up the issue of churches, specifically crowd sizes. Justice talked about photos he received of a church “in one of our northern counties,” where congregants were not following guidelines related to masks or social distancing.

“There’s no one that I can see anywhere in the congregation that’s got a mask on. There’s no pews in between. We’re just asking for it,” Justice said. “I don’t question our love, but at the same time, we cannot keep doing this. We just can’t.”

Justice stated Monday that his executive order from July 6 makes it “mandatory that you wear a mask in church.” However, the order reads:

“All individuals age 9 and over within the State of West Virginia shall wear an adequate face covering when in confined, indoor spaces, other than when in one’s residence or when actively engaged in the consumption of food and/or beverage, and when not able to adequately social distance from other individuals who do not reside in the same household.”

Executive Order No. 50-20

This suggests that the mandate for wearing a mask in a building other than a person’s home is only in effect if the opportunity to socially distance does not exist.

More testing opportunities are coming up this week in north central West Virginia.

Testing will be held July 14 in Harrison County. It will run noon–7 p.m. at Robert C. Byrd High School in Clarksburg. In Barbour County, testing will be held July 16, 11 a.m.–7 p.m. at Philip Barbour High School in Philippi.

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