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More COVID-19 outbreaks at West Virginia prison

(KGNS)
Published: May. 20, 2020 at 4:29 PM EDT
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West Virginia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Betsy Jividen said at Wednesday's coronavirus briefing two inmates and two members of the staff at the Huttonsville Correctional Center are now known to have tested positive for the coronavirus.

That, after an inmate and a staff member tested positive earlier this week. Widespread testing of both inmates and staff is now under way.

Governor Jim Justice announced at the briefing a discount program for all state residents at state park lodges and cabins, which are just reopening after being closed most of this spring.

The 30% discount, which also applies to West Virginians who previously had reservations for those sites, will be in effect until August 30.

Meanwhile, members of the governor's office staff sought Wednesday to clear up confusion over who is subject to the rule limiting mass gatherings to 25 people for the purpose of social distancing.

"We put out specific guidelines for restaurants, that was the 50% dining," General Counsel Brian Abraham explained. "So obviously, a restaurant that had a capacity of 100 would not be limited to 25, but to 50. We've had wedding chapels calling regularly, asking about the 25 limit. The same thing with churches; when we put out the guidelines for churches, although we never closed them, we had many ask about the 25. What we've suggested is, any of those essential businesses we've offered guidelines for, that's the guidelines that should be followed, and not worry about this 25."

It was announced Tuesday West Virginia's unemployment rate rose in April to 15%, the worst since the 1980's.

Workforce West Virginia director Scott Adkins predicted Wednesday the jobless rate will go as high as 21% before declining.

But Justice has some optimism about revenue collections, which fell sharply below estimates in March.

He said May collections so far have been better than expected, given the state is just starting to recover from closings and people out of work.

In Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine did not have a daily briefing Wednesday. His briefings are expected to resume Thursday.

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