CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and his staff appeared live in the Channel 13 studio to answer your questions on how the state’s plans on combatting COVID-19, which finally appeared in the state this week.
Justice says this is a time to be concerned, but it’s not a time to panic.
“It’s not a time to panic that I’ve said many times,” he says. “It’s a time, really and truly, to just move forward and try to make the best moves that we can possibly make.”
He says he highly recommends residents practice social distancing and remember those who are are the highest risk.
“It’s a time to step up as West Virginians,” he says.
At this time, the state has tested about 500 people, Dr. Clay Marsh, dean of health sciences at West Virginia University, says, with two confirmed cases.
Justice says they have not had enough testing kits at the beginning, but they are catching up. Marsh said the commercial labs are catching up with the demand.
He says the ruralness of the state may turn out to be our greatest advantage in this battle. The typical distance between residents will assist in not spreading the coronavirus.
Marsh recommends washing hands and not touching their faces to help stop the spread.
In response to a question about travel restrictions throughout the state, Justice says not traveling across state borders will help curb the spread of the virus.
In addition, the more people can work at home, the better.
Marsh says they will also continue to help medical professionals throughout the state obtain the assistance they need during this time.
Justice says he “hopes and prays” West Virginia doesn’t get to a place where he has to implement a shelter in place order. He says he hopes enough orders have been put in place quickly enough to not have to do that.
He says everything that has been put into place has been to keep the flood of patients from overrunning the hospitals.
West Virginia Health Officer Dr. Catherine Slemp says they’re working closely with the schools to determine when they can be put into session.
Department of Health and Human Resources Bill Crouch says in-person classes have been stopped to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
At this time, the West Virginia primary will go on as planned on May 12. Justice says, honestly, this is the last thing on his mind and he chooses to focus on stop the spreading of the virus.
Residents can get an absentee ballot with certain conditions and March says requesting an absentee ballot based on medical concerns may help with social distancing.
Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) says Congress continues to work on providing grants and loans for small businesses to help the economy and help residents as they are off work and are able to go back to work.
Justice says this is the time for West Virginia shine.
“We can take care of one another and we can make West Virginia look like a beacon that is unbelievable,” he says.