Gov. Justice says mandatory testing and quarantining are ‘on the table’ for out of state travel after increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations

Coronavirus

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – During Monday’s COVID-19 briefing, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice expressed concern after 239 new cases were reported over the weekend, bringing the state’s total to 1,938 active cases. Hospitalizations(116) in the state are also going up, Justice said.

Justice’s biggest concern is migration of coronavirus from the south, he said. The governor pointed to Logan County, which has 118 active cases, including 22 staff and five patients at Logan Regional Medical Center. Justice also mentioned concern about Mingo(89 active) and Mercer(124 active) counties.

Mandatory testing and quarantining when residents return to the state from out of state travel “is on the table,” Justice said.

Gov. Justice announced that the state and Thomas Health System is bringing St. Francis Hospital in Kanawha County, online as a surge hospital. It will offer 15 beds, which could increase as needed, state health officials said. The effort is intended as “running to the fire before there is a fire,” said WV DHHR Sec. Bill Crouch. The surge facility has not accepted patients yet, officials said.

One bright spot the governor pointed to is that West Virginia’s total number of cases(6,829) is still much lower than border states.

The governor provided an update on the situation at Princeton Healthcare Center, where 31 staff and 33 residents have tested positive. Nineteen of those people have been hospitalized, he said. At least three deaths have been tied to the facility and state officials, trying to confirm more potential deaths, which has been hampered by changes in Mercer County Health Department, officials said.

Church outbreaks in the state are now down to four counties(Grant, Logan, Mason, Taylor) for current total of 89 cases, Justice said.

Over the weekend, Justice extended the Monongalia County bar closure order for 10 more days, the third time he has done so.

The governor asked businesses to police their own businesses, making sure people are wearing masks.

Gov. Justice believes he will be able to offer continued announcements pertaining to a potential return to school, with an important announcement expected Wednesday, he said. The state is waiting for a fourth federal stimulus package, which Justice believes will include funds to make it safer for students and staff to go back to school.

Justice also said that the state has sent out $102 million to 162 cities and counties in CARES funding, as well as $4.4 million to 881 small businesses.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation is set to announce medical access roads projects in all 55 counties, Justice said.

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