Gov. Justice lays out timeline for reopening West Virginia

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice held his virtual news briefing on the state’s COVID-19 response Monday morning.

The governor said he was holding the briefing earlier than normal, because he has a call scheduled Monday afternoon with President Trump and Vice President Pence.

In what has become his custom, Gov. Justice began the news conference by mentioning the most four most recent COVID-19 deaths in the state.

Justice praised West Virginians for their efforts thus far to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the state, given West Virginia’s high at-risk population and its proximity to states with much higher numbers of cases.

If we get three consecutive days of statewide positive tests, under three percent, parts of the state will open back up, Justice said. If that criteria is met, businesses will be allowed, but not required to open, Gov. Justice said.

Gov. Justice announced a slogan and logo to go along with reopening the state: “West Virginia Strong: The Comeback.” “We cannot forever sit still,” Justice said.

Below are the guidelines Justice provided:

Week 1(starting today, April 27):

  • Hospitals will reopen for elective medical procedures.
  • State officials are looking at how to reopen outpatient medical care, such as dentist’s offices.
  • Testing will begin for daycare workers to prepare for daycares to reopen.

Week 2(May 4):

  • Small businesses with less than 10 employees can reopen
  • Grooming for people and animals can reopen if those businesses have PPE, customers submit to temperature checks and wear masks.
  • Outdoor dining, churches and funeral homes will be able to reopen to limited gatherings.

Week 3-6(May 11):

  • Everything else, like restaurants, gyms, hotels, casinos, etc, can reopen.

Specific guidelines will be released one week ahead of time, Justice said.

There is no timeline for nursing home visitation, sporting events, movie theaters and gatherings larger than 25 people.

The full timeline from the governor’s office is available here.

If there are significant increases in positive test results, this timeline will be slowed down, Justice said.

WV Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, and House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, issued the following joint statement applauding Gov. Jim Justice’s announcement about the planned steps to reopen the West Virginia economy:

“The past six weeks have been some of the most difficult and challenging times in our State’s history. The COVID-19 virus has had a devastating impact on the lives of all West Virginians. Families have lost friends and loved ones to this deadly virus. Others have suffered economic losses that will last for months or years, but it is important that we start planning now for how we return to normal life in America.

“We were pleased to see Governor Justice lay out a plan for getting West Virginians back to work. We are happy to have had input into the plan the Governor announced today. We are happy that the actions taken by the State in the past several weeks have slowed the spread of this virus. Now, we look forward to turning our attention to the process of recovering from the damage this virus has caused, both to our communities and to our economy.

“We join Governor Justice in his goal to reopen the West Virginia economy as quickly as possible while respecting the need to maintain necessary health and safety protocols. We support the Governor’s desire to get our businesses open and our economy moving again. Governor Justice correctly remarked last week that it is critical to our State to get workers back on the job and business owners back to doing business, all as quickly as possible.

“We support the focus in the plan announced by Governor Justice on near-term efforts to get people working again as quickly as possible, and we are looking forward to working with the Governor to provide whatever support is necessary from the Legislature to jumpstart an economic recovery in West Virginia.”

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