CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Governor Jim Justice ordered the shutdown of state-owned campgrounds and lodges, and says people from high-risk states such as New York must self-quarantine for 14 days if they come here. But Justice sparked controversy when he said the state police could charge people who violate that executive order with obstruction. That outraged West Virginia’s ACLU.
“Those criminal penalties can include incarceration. And the real problem with that is the government would be taking people that they think might have COVID-19, putting them in our overcrowded and unsanitary jails. It’s a breeding ground,” said Joseph Cohen, executive director, ACLU of West Virginia.
But the Governor says the state of emergency, means tough measures have to be in place now, even if he eventually loses a court fight over his order.
“We’re dealing with an absolute pandemic, a world-wide pandemic and people are dying all over the place. And I’m trying to do everything I possibly can, to protect our people, and I’m going to do that,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.
In other developments, the Governor has also halted all elective surgeries at hospitals across the state, to conserve resources for fighting the pandemic threat. And the Governor says he’s trying to halt the closure of Williamson Hospital in Mingo County because the state needs every hospital bed in this crisis. Meanwhile, the National Guard continues its focus on food distribution, especially for children.
“Today we have 370 Guardsmen on duty. Our stabilization efforts for our feeding program continue to be effective and go well,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, West Virginia National Guard.
“West Virginia continues to have among the lowest rates of infection in the United States. Fewer than four percent of people tested here were positive for COVID-19, and that is less than half the national average,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.