WV Gov. Justice: First positive coronavirus case confirmed in eastern panhandle


WEST VIRGINIA (WDVM) — West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said the first coronavirus case has been confirmed in the eastern panhandle on Tuesday, March 17. The eastern panhandle region of the Mountain State includes Berkeley, Morgan and Jefferson Counties.

He mandated that all restaurants and bars should close dine-in services, and casinos will be closed as well. Justice said we have the power to combat COVID-19 by staying away from each other and practicing good hygiene.

“We’re all in this boat together, we all have to do this, the pathway to the prevention of this disease spreading..none of us have ever gone thru a pandemic. Our power to combat this disease is being apart from one another,” said Justice. “We have to take seriously all the hygiene recommendations, the ability to stay six foot apart from one another, to stay away from crowds, help our elderly and if you show up at the grocery store and it’s full of people – don’t go in.”

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Berkeley County proclaimed a local state of emergency but the specific county or city with the COVID-19 case was not specified.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) made a statement in response to the announcement, saying he supports the decision to close dine-in services in restaurants and bars, and to close casinos.

“Today Governor Justice has confirmed the first coronavirus case in our state in the Eastern Panhandle. The safety and well-being of every West Virginian must remain our top priority and we all share the responsibility to prevent further spread of this virus and exercise responsible choices which include social distancing. I support Governor Justice’s decision to close restaurants, bars, and casinos because we must do everything we can to slow this virus down. We must also support our small businesses and their employees during this difficult time while they make sacrifices for the health of our state and our nation. I hope that the announcement of the first case in West Virginia will encourage every individual to take this virus seriously and follow CDC guidelines to protect themselves and our communities.”

Senator Joe Manchin’s full statement

Manchin said in a news release he wants West Virginians to contact him if they are having trouble accessing COVID-19 testing or the necessary equipment by emailing him at common_sense@manchin.senate.gov or calling 304-342-5855.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) also released a statement saying the Senate intends to pass legislation this week to provide resources for testing and other necessary support. Her full statement reads:

“Tonight, Governor Justice announced the first confirmed COVID-19 case in West Virginia. I am thinking of the person impacted by this virus and wish them a speedy recovery. I’ve been in touch with Governor Justice, the White House, health officials, and others at the state and federal level consistently—particularly when it comes to raising concerns about our rural hospitals and the need for more testing kits in West Virginia. This is an issue I remain on top of and will continue to monitor as the situation evolves. Recently, Congress passed an emergency supplemental funding package, which means our country is even more prepared to limit the spread of the coronavirus and treat those who have been diagnosed. This week, the Senate will pass a second package, which will provide resources for testing, health supplies, and nutrition assistance, as well as sick leave for workers during this crisis. The Senate is also working on yet another bill that we plan to pass this week that will aid our economy, help our small businesses, and provide assistance to workers and families impacted by this emergency. I will continue working at the federal level, along with Governor Justice and others in the state to make sure we are doing everything in our power to help West Virginians and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) full statement on March 17, 2020.

One day prior, Justice said there were 84 COVID-19 tests with 80 negative results. Four tests were still pending at that time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that has been increasing rapidly in the United States. Until now, West Virginia was the only state left that did not have any confirmed cases. Last week, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, which is a global outbreak of disease.  President Trump declared a national emergency due to the pandemic on Friday, and since then many state leaders and even city and county leaders declared local state of emergencies.

The CDC said the following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to COVID-19:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Justice and other state leaders have closed dine-in services to prevent large gatherings of people. This is because the CDC recommends avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people and to stay six feet away from others in a practice called social distancing, to avoid spreading of COVID-19.


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