CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice urged state residents Wednesday to “live our lives” despite the emerging threat of the new coronavirus.
Justice held a news briefing along with Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch at the Capitol to discuss steps West Virginia is taking and to give common-sense advice on how people should protect themselves.
There are no known cases of the virus that causes COVID-19 thus far in West Virginia. On Wednesday, Washington state reported a 10th death while California announced its first.
The briefing came after Justice held a private roundtable with administration and medical officials. The purpose of the meeting was to make “absolutely certain that we’re ready, God forbid, if we do have a situation here in West Virginia,” Justice said. “We’re trying to do exactly what our jobs are. And that is, to always never have a surprise.
“There’s a situation worldwide, and we want to be diligent with what we do.”
Crouch said the risk that the virus will arrive in West Virginia is low, especially due to the very small number of international travelers coming to the state. But he predicts most states will see such cases “the way it’s moving.”
Justice said residents should not cancel travel plans.
“That’s not necessary,” he said. “We have to live our lives. We’ve got all the horsepower that’s on top of this to the very best of all of our abilities. We don’t know if a meteorite’s not going to hit us tomorrow. We’ve got to live our lives.”
Earlier Wednesday, West Virginia University issued an advisory to its campus community ahead of spring break, which is scheduled from March 14 to March 22. Dean of Students Corey Farris said in a statement that many students, faculty and staff will be traveling to a variety of locations, including where there are large crowds.
The university earlier this week canceled all scheduled university-sponsored trips abroad, affecting 217 students. The College of Creative Arts previously called off a student symphony’s planned trip to China.