CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The Governor and state health officials knew it was only a matter of time before the virus surfaced, and that time is now.
Just like everyday life in Kentucky and Ohio has drastically changed, it’s also about to here in the Mountain State as well.
“We developed a plan of preparedness and from that, a plan of action,” Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia says. “A plan to be ready as this terrible virus got closer and closer to our shores.”
And now that terrible virus is officials here in the Mountain State. Justice making that announcement during a live address Tuesday evening.
“Just moments before I was able to come out and talk to you,” Justice. “Our health officials advised that now we do have our first confirmed positive. In the Eastern Panhandle.”
The Governor and other top health officials remaining tight-lipped … not offering any other details about the confirmed case, only saying it was located in the eastern panhandle and the patient is not currently hospitalized.
“I think again, we don’t want to go into specifics with this situation,” Dr. Cathy Slemp, WV public health officer, says. “This is nothing unexpected. We also need to make sure, what I can tell you, they handled it very responsibly. When they were sick they were doing all of the right things and following the guidelines that we made.”
Guidelines … including social distancing.
That was a major point stressed by state health officials and the governor.
“We have to take seriously all the hygiene recommendations, the ability to stay six foot apart from one another, to stay away from crowds, help our elderly and if you show up at the grocery store and it’s full of people – don’t go at that time,” Justice says.
Effective at midnight tonight, all West Virginia casinos will close. All bars and restaurants will be forced to close as well.
Restaurants will have the option to remain open for carry-out services.
“The authorities allow the governor to take action to protect the public health and that means limiting egress and ingress and that could be applied in a lot of authorities … including this,” says Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) West Virginia.
Health officials say right now, no other facilities or businesses will be forced to close, but they expect that to soon change as the situation develops and more people are tested.
“We test as many as we possibly can,” Slemp says. “We also know there are other entities coming online. We have talked to hospitals that are getting those systems up and running. We have also talked to the federal government about some of the initiatives that they have been putting out that makes testing more available to our communities.”
So far the state has tested 137 people total … 122 have come back negative, one confirmed positive and 14 results are still pending.
All officials alluding to the Governor making additional announcements tomorrow. All of them saying the same thing, describing this as a very “fluid” situation, but all stressing not more than ever is a time to be Mountaineer strong.