CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says Cabell, Wayne, Wood and Ohio counties have been added to the executive order regarding “hot spots.” The list already includes Jefferson, Berkeley, Morgan, Monongalia, Marion, Harrison and Kanawha, bringing the total number of “hot spot” counties to 11.
West Virginia COVID-19 Czar Dr. Clay Marsh says West Virginia’s peak in cases is projected to come as soon as April 12, on Easter Sunday. Marsh also says the projected number of deaths in the state has gone down from last week’s estimated 500 to a possible 74 deaths. Justice and Marsh say while this is better news, the state cannot relax in the steps taken to slow the spread of the virus and prevent a larger surge as the state is still the most at risk in the nation.
Justice says the state is going issue each of the state’s 55 counties a block grant of $100,000, giving the counties latitude to reward the money to frontline workers. He is also issuing the West Virginia National Guard a block grant of $500 per active member. The governor says it will be up to the counties to distribute the funds between workers.
Justice says he has also written a letter to the president requesting the state be allowed to put some CARES Act funding toward first responders and other essential workers.
The state is also adding 24 additional staff from DMAPS including five state policemen and 60 additional temporary employees who will start Monday and be trained to process claims for Workforce West Virginia to help process the large number of claims coming into the unemployment office.
Gov. Justice also gave an update stating WVU plans to move forward in acquiring Fairmont Regional Medical Center. Justice says the Fairmont community needs a hospital in the area regardless of whether it would be needed in case of a surge of coronavirus patients.