Coronavirus Updates

Gov. Justice temporarily closes bars in Monongalia County; downsizes group gatherings

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said he is closing bars in Monongalia County to close again for 10 days due to the increase of cases in the county.

Justice made the announcement at his press conference Monday, July 13, 2020. He says the state is working with the county’s health department to monitor the rise in cases and bring the situation back under control. He says he hopes the closure of bars will give health officials time to help the facilities make sure they are able to comply with the state’s health guidelines.

“We just got off the phone with the health officials, county commission, from Mon. County and they’re working. They’re trying really hard and we’re going to try to integrate their ideas with our ideas as we do all over the place and our health experts are with them and in contact with them,” Justice said.

During his briefing, Justice shared data released from Texas, showing bars as one of the places where the virus can be most easily spread. He also says the situation in Monongalia County affects the 20 to 29 age group as students are returning to the area.

The governor said the state would also return to crowd sizes of 25 and outdoor fairs, festivals and concerts that cannot comply with the downsize will be canceled. The state had originally moved to 100 people in a gathering earlier this month.

He says this will not apply to outdoor sports or pools provided people can maintain socially distanced.

The closure of Monongalia County bars, the downsize in crowds, and the cancellation of outdoor festivals, fairs and concerts that cannont comply with the downsize in crowds will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, July 14.

“I wish to goodness we didn’t have to do any of this stuff. I wish that we had a vaccine now, and we could be West Virginians enjoying this summer, beyond belief, just like you.”

WV Gov. Jim Justice.

Justice threatened to shut the state down again at his Friday, July 10, 2020, press conference if citizens did not comply with the mandatory mask order.

Justice’s remarks at the time were partially due to the recent outbreak in Monongalia County.

Justice said if the positive virus cases continue to trend higher, he was going to move to shut down bars and in-dining in restaurants.

“I’m not ready yet to do that and impose that level of additional hardship,” Justice said at the time.

Justice says one possible way to enforce the mandate is allowing local health departments to suspend the license of any business found to be non-compliant with the order.

Positive cases of the virus have been spiking on a week by week basis in the Mountain State in numbers reported by West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

Comparing the numbers reported at 10 a.m. on each of the specified dates you see the growth from one week to the next on the chart below.

Mask mandates are happening in several counties in Ohio and Kentucky but across the country have halted their plans for reopening as virus cases continue to spike.

Justice recently announced the restart of high school sports and schools in the Mountain State. Although there have been concerns from educators about reopening plans.

Gov. Justice signed the executive order on Monday, July 6, 2020, making face coverings mandatory in all public and privately owned buildings in the state.

The executive order went into effect 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, July 7, 2020.

“We have got to go to mandatory masks or face coverings, it doesn’t have to but a formal mask, but a facial covering to protect those around you,” Justice said on Monday, July 6, 2020.

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