CHARLESTON — On Thursday, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) confirmed 26 new cases of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been officially reported to the state, making the total positive case count 217.
As of April 2, 5,493 residents have been tested for COVID-19, with 217 positive, 5,276 negative and two deaths.
Confirmed cases per county: Barbour (1), Berkeley (27), Cabell (3), Greenbrier (3), Hancock (5), Hardy (2), Harrison (17), Jackson (11), Jefferson (12), Kanawha (39), Logan (4), Marion (10), Marshall (4), Mason (3), Mercer (3), Monongalia (35), Morgan (1), Ohio (10), Pendleton (1), Pleasants (1), Preston (3), Putnam (5), Raleigh (3), Randolph (2), Roane (2), Tucker (3), Upshur (1), Wetzel (2), Wirt (1), Wood (3).
Also on Thursday, Gov. Jim Justice joined state health leaders at the Capitol Complex for a virtual press briefing.
Saying that West Virginia “is still trending the right way” when it comes to the number of COVID-19 cases in the state, Gov. Jim Justice reminded state citizens to “keep doing the good work you have by washing your hands, keeping your hands away from your face and practicing social distancing” while also praising again health care and front line personnel for helping to “minimize the number of deaths and sickness” from the pandemic.
Gov. Justice also said, despite a letter from some legislative leaders calling for cancellation of the rest of the school year, that he was “not ready to throw the towel in yet.
“I’m not going to deny our kids some sort of hope of going back to school,” Justice said. “I’m going to keep listening to the experts and I can assure you I would never put our kids, teachers and service personnel back in schools until it is totally safe and totally sound. But we don’t have to make a decision today on the rest of the school year.”
“Our future will be written by what we keep doing, not by what we’ve done,” Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s COVID-19 czar, said during the briefing. Dr. Marsh also encouraged citizens to use face coverings of some sort – masks, scarves, etc. – to also help reduce the transmission of droplets that could be virus-laden.
“Do the good work, follow what the Governor is asking us to do and it will reduce the need for critical care beds and deaths in West Virginia,” Marsh said.
Attorney General Patrick Morrissey complimented workers for the “Herculean effort they are making” across West Virginia to “keep stores stocked with food and other critical supplies” during this crisis.
He also said that if citizens should experience price gouging, landlord-tenant issues or other consumer problems to contact his office and that they will investigate every claim.
The West Virginia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection hotline is toll-free at 1-800-368-8808 or online at ago.wv.gov
“Doubling down on the things you’ve been doing is exceptionally important and will help us break the curve,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard.
He said more than 420 Soldiers and Airmen are now on duty supporting COVID-19 response efforts across the state. As reported on Thursday, over the previous 24 hours, West Virginia Guard Soldiers, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Resources, made significant headway on contact tracing and data analysis for the tracking of COVID-19 spread through over 430 engagements and eight expedited specimen transfers, according to the press release concerning the briefing.
“We are also continuing our mission of supporting the most vulnerable populations in the state and in the last 24 hours, we packed over 2,000 meals at the Mountaineer and Facing Hunger Food Banks. A refrigerated truck and team from the WVNG will assist with the delivery of 5,500 meals to Ohio County today,” Maj. Gen. Hoyer added. “Critical medical supplies from the national stockpile were distributed yesterday to all 55 counties and 275 gallons of hand sanitizer has been provided to the Bureau of Senior Services.”
The governor’s daily press release, which provides highlights of the briefing, included information from WorkForce West Virginia which is encouraging employees who believe they are eligible for programs under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to remain patient as the agency awaits guidelines for distributing benefits.
WorkForce West Virginia has extended hours to process the influx of regular state unemployment benefits. Employees are now working from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., six days a week. The agency also is being helped by 10 members of the West Virginia National Guard, who will help respond to callers with questions about the CARES Act and how to file for unemployment.
The fastest way to file for benefits is online at www.workforcewv.org. A step-by-step guide to filing an initial claim may be found by going to the Unemployment section of WorkForce’s website and then clicking the Claimants tab. Those who do not have internet access, have a disability requiring assistive technology or need further assistance should call 1-800-252-JOBS.
Information provided by DHHR and the office of Gov. Jim Justice.