CHARLESTON, W.Va. – During his Friday news briefing, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice again went over plans and guidelines as the state reopens.
The governor said that he only wants businesses to open if they follow the guidelines set for them. “We continue to work with business groups to help them establish protocols. You should continue to stay at home if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have come into contact with someone who has had it,” Justice said.
Additional guidelines for 11 hotspot counties(Berkeley, Cabell, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha, Marion, Monongalia, Ohio, Wayne, and Wood counties) will be released over the weekend, Justice said. There have also been discussions about removing some of the counties from the hotspot list, the governor said. “We’ve been in touch with all 11 and we’re continuing to get feedback from our experts, from the counties, and from the people that are on the ground with our health departments,” Gov. Justice said. “We want everybody to come back online and we want to do as much as we possibly can, as we do the baby steps instead of the running, but we are very aware of the hotspot counties, their bordering outside-the-state neighbors, and different issues they might have, so we’re going to try to treat that appropriately.”
If there’s a need, Gov. Justice will close the state back down, he said.
Justice encouraged the state’s elderly population to wait to start going back to church services. He also encouraged churchgoers to follow proper social distancing guidelines and wear masks.
Gov. Justice announced that state revenues are $205 million less than expected. “A good amount of those dollars are income tax monies that we anticipated on April 15, that weren’t here because we moved the date to July 15. But there’s still a tremendous amount of the shortfall is simply due to the fact that West Virginia has been basically shut down,” he said. April’s revenue report is available here.
The governor again said that he believes that he will be able to use federal funding to back-fill the revenue losses, but he does not have that assurance yet, Justice said. If federal approval does not come before the end of the month, Gov. Justice said that he would call the state legislature into a special session to look at other options, including the state’s rainy day fund. The governor believes the state should not have any problems paying its bills through May, he said.
The West Virginia State Police worked with the WV DHHR, on Friday, to get needed medications, from the United States Strategic National Stockpile, delivered to hospitals around the state. “Twenty state troopers, working together with the DHHR, have orchestrated the delivery of life-sustaining medications to every hospital across our state in one day,” Gov. Justice said.
As of today, testing at all 123 nursing home facilities in the state will be finished, WV DHHR officials said. A report on the results will be released next week, officials said. West Virginia is the first state in the U.S. to test all of its nursing home residents and staff, according to DHHR officials.