Gov. Justice: no plans to issue shutdowns

While severity of recent surge is explained
Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 4:23 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WTAP) - While he’s said in the past everything is being considered to fight rising coronavirus cases, Governor Jim Justice Wednesday denied he currently plans shutdowns to accomplish that.

The governor, however, added the way for residents to keep that from happening is to wear masks, social distance and practice good personal hygiene.

Justice again spent the first several minutes of his briefing Wednesday answering critics of his announcement last week of an enforced mask order, saying his goals are to reduce the spread and the number of deaths from the virus, not to violate anyone’s constitutional rights.

And he noted more people in the U.S. have died in the past week from COVID-19 than the death toll from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The head of the state National Guard had more eye-opening statistics about the West Virginia’s recent cases.

”In today’s morning briefing from the National Guard and the DHHR, we were informed by our statistical and analyitical folks that 42% of our cases have occurred in the last 30 days. We are averaging four deaths a day,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, “with an average age of 77 years of age.”

State health officials said during the briefing agreements with hospitals reached earlier this year for bed space in the event of a continued surge in cases remain in place.

During the first wave of the pandemic last spring, West Virginia announced an agreement with Charleston’s St. Francis Hospital to house an overflow of patients.

The coronavirus has infected 260 inmates at West Virginia’s McDowell County Corrections. It is by far the largest outbreak at a state prison. The state reported numbers on Tuesday showing six more people were confirmed positive.

Gov. Jim Justice said on Monday 28 staff members also were sick. He said the facility was on lockdown, and state data show 136 people are quarantined there for possible exposure.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)

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