Gov. Justice and Sen. Manchin exchange verbal punches over COVID-19 aid

Coronavirus in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Noting a recent spike in COVID-19 in West Virginia, with a positive rate nearing 4%, Gov. Jim Justice says he still wants schools to open Sept. 8. However, if things worsen, he and education leaders may have to push the date back.

“Our daily positive number you see, it’s popped back up. And we’re trending above that dotted line. We don’t want to be above that dotted line,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.

But then the briefing turned from COVID-19 to a political sparring match with Sen. Joe Manchin. In a press conference of his own just before Justice’s, Manchin questioned why the governor had released so little of the federal CARES Act money sent to West Virginia to help cities and counties.

“But the governor is using this as a political slush fund. He’s in an election year and is using this as a political slush fund. You tell me why he’s only – and this is coming from the auditor’s office – there’s only been $44 million that’s gone to cities and counties,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, (D) West Virginia.

“It’s a lie,” Justice said. “It’s a lie. What Senator Manchin ought to do is concentrate on the job he has in DC, and get that job done, and get that job done properly. He ought not concentrate so much on running Ben Salango’s campaign.”

Salango is the Democratic nominee running against the Governor.

Justice says $60 million has been handed out to cities and counties, and more local governments need to apply.

“The governor says nearly 2,000 people have applied for the $5,000 small business grants, for a total of $1 million. But that fund has a total of $150 million, so he wants many more small businesses to apply,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.

Wednesday afternoon Democratic candidate for Governor Ben Salango issued a statement saying, “Jim Justice is using his taxpayer-funded press conferences to attack me. We’ve asked Jim Justice to step up and help our small businesses, first responders, healthcare providers, and all West Virginians. All he’s done is help himself.”

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