CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Under the federal “CARES Act” passed by Congress, all states must spend the money they received from the Federal Government by the end of this month. If they don’t, the money has to be sent back to Washington. But states will still need money for testing and other COVID expenses – like distributing vaccines. In West Virginia, that may mean dipping into the state’s surplus cash.
“To be able to spend those dollars. You know at that point in time, if we get to that point in time, and Congress and the feds have not moved, we’ll have to call ourselves into special session,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.
States are in a bind because Congress has yet to approve a second economic stimulus package for COVID-19 with money for states, counties and cities. And it may have to wait until President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office on January 20. Meanwhile, the first batch of vaccines is scheduled to arrive in West Virginia December 14. Nursing home patients, health care workers and emergency crews will get theirs first, but it could be months before average West Virginians get shots.
“We will be vaccinating people through the mid-part, to perhaps the third-quarter or beyond of 2021, to get everybody,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia COVID-19 Czar.
Also today, health leaders announced that home testing kits are now available for those who don’t want to wait in long lines.
“To underscore the surge in West Virginia, the Governor said today that half of all the state’s positive COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in just the past 30 days,” Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.