CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s Wednesday virtual COVID-19 briefing, originally scheduled for 11:30 a.m., began nearly an hour late, and most of the first 20 minutes of the briefing was unintelligible due to internet buffering on Gov. Justice’s Youtube channel.
Once the signal cleared up, Justice addressed a lawsuit against him and local officials by owners of bars in Monongalia County over his bar closure order. They have every right to sue and the plaintiffs can “pour it on,” Justice said. “I’ve made the right decision on that, and it’s where I’m going to stand,” the governor continued.
Prior to rescinding the bar closure order, Justice would want to get input from county, city and health department officials, he said. “I want all of our businesses to be open,” but rules would have to be followed by the establishments and their patrons, Justice continued.
Monongalia County is trending well and Justice believes the county will soon be “gold,” which could lead to West Virginia University returning to in-person classes and local high schools being allowed to hold sporting events, Gov. Justice said.
Mon County is currently “orange”. All counties in the state are now listed as “orange” or lower, with no “red” counties currently.
The state recently began setting county colors by infection rates or positive test rates, whichever is lower. Making that change “may be our (West Virginia’s) greatest moment,” Justice said.
An agreement has been reached with the Bible Center School in Kanawha County for it to hold in-person learning when the county is “orange,” if all students and staff are tested, Justice said. The schools will not be open if the county goes “red”, the governor continued.
The governor signed an executive order Wednesday reflecting this agreement.
“We want this to be an example and a model for our other private and Christian Schools to follow,” Gov. Justice said. “This offer is on the table for all private and Christian Schools in West Virginia.”
When asked if the state had a position about whether trick or treating should happen in West Virginia, Justice said that he’d issue guidelines by Oct. 1. “I want like crazy for our kids to be able to get out there and trick or treat,” Justice said.
Justice again encouraged everyone to be tested for COVID-19, saying that the more tests the state receives, the faster counties like Kanawha and Monongalia will get back to “gold” or better levels. In fact, Justice himself was tested live, during the briefing, to show people how easy the test is, he explained.
“All the people around me are going to live a miserable live until we get to a level of significant testing,” Justice said. That’s a minimum of 7,000 tests a day, the governor said.