CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice resumed his weekday virtual news briefings on Monday afternoon.
As has been his practice, Gov. Justice began by recognizing the state’s latest COVID-19 deaths, which jumped from 13 on Friday to 24 by Monday.
The Governor highlighted the seven West Virginia counties that still do not have any reported cases of coronavirus: Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Gilmer, Pocahontas, Ritchie and Webster counties. He also mentioned Braxton County, which has only one case reported.
Following up on his executive order from Friday that all employees and staff at nursing homes in the state be tested or re-tested, Justice said that it amounts to 28,000 people in 124 facilities, and state officials believe the tests can be accomplished in a week. He also said that it is compared to 22,000 tests, statewide, that have been conducted in the past 40 days. Labs now have one-two turnarounds for test results, state officials said. West Virginia is the first state in the U.S. to order such tests for all nursing home residents and staff, officials said.
Gov. Justice issued an executive order for hospitals to start preparations to re-start elective surgeries and general care, if they meet WV DHHR requirements. Reviews of hospitals will start on April 27, per the order.
The governor said that a decision on state schools would be coming soon, with the current closure date set at April 30.
WorkForce WV announced that self-employed, contractors and gig workers will be able to apply for unemployment benefits starting on Friday, April 24. Their benefits will be retroactive, officials said.
Gov. Justice said that the state has not received rules from the federal government on how the stimulus the state has gotten can be spent. Last week, West Virginia received $625 million and today got another $625 million, Justice said.
The governor also encouraged businesses to come to West Virginia to manufacture items that have become necessary during the pandemic.