WV Governor Justice announces COVID-19 outbreak in state’s eastern panhandle

Coronavirus

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and other state officials held their daily briefing on the state’s response to the coronavirus epidemic Friday afternoon.

The governor began by announcing that the state has an outbreak in the eastern panhandle and again urged residents to self-quarantine if they are sick. Governor Justice said that there are now roughly 60 cases in Berkeley and Jefferson counties. However, Berkeley County has 37 cases, and Jefferson County has 12 cases, according to WV DHHR statistics released Friday morning. That is an increase of ten cases in Berkeley County since the DHHR’s Thursday statistics release. The cases have been attributed to “community transmission,” officials said. The outbreak is not specific to one facility and is made up of results from tests taken over a period of time, state health officials said. More specific information on exactly where the hotspots are will be released later on Friday, officials said. WV National Guard officials said they would be sending additional support to those areas.

State health officials also announced a new dashboard on the state’s coronavirus website and said that updates would be made each day at 10:00 a.m.

Gov. Justice announced that more than one million meals have been provided to West Virginia students. County by county feeding site information is available here. State board of education officials released a Youtube video upon providing the millionth meal:

Justice and WV State Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch again defended their decision to not yet close schools for the remainder of the school year, as was suggested by state legislative leaders Thursday. Justice said that the bi-partisan group sent the letter, making the request out, without calling him first.

The governor asked residents to refrain from spreading rumors and re-emphasized what West Virginia State Police are and are not doing related to the enforcement of Justice’s executive orders. WV National Guard Maj. Gen. James Hoyer echoed the governor’s sentiments, saying that the National Guard was not serving in any type of law enforcement role.

When asked about issues with Workforce WV’s website and phone system, state officials suggested that residents trying to apply for unemployment simply continue to try to reach Workforce WV. Gov. Justice quickly followed that comment up by saying that the answer was “simply not good enough” and that he would be “going back to the well” to improve the situation.

Gov. Justice and state officials said that they have no knowledge of any positive coronavirus cases in any of West Virginia’s jails or prisons.

Justice also asked for “thoughts and prayers” for the family of West Virginia native and “Lean on Me” singer Bill Withers, who died at age 81, in Los Angeles, Monday. Withers died from heart complications, not related to coronavirus, reports said.

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