West Virginia has been in the processing of reopening the state for about three months. Businesses, activities and events have slowly been reintegrating into daily activities; however, Gov. Jim Justice is putting on the brakes and even reversing some portions of “West Virginia Strong: The Comeback.”
Orders by Justice will see the reduction of crowd sizes being reduced once again to 25 people from the 100 congregant number that was set in June and will see the prohibition of all fairs, festivals and outdoor concerts. He made the announcement early this afternoon (Monday, July 13).
“This is a statewide thing. We’re done with fairs and festivals right now in West Virginia,” Justice said. “They are absolutely a breeding ground.”
Monongalia County – home of West Virginia University – has been designated has a hotspot for several weeks has seen yet another upsurge in new COVID-positive cases mostly for people in the 20-29 age group. Because of this, Justice has ordered all bars in the county closed for 10 days.
“What we are hoping for is to see a correction of numbers,” Justice said. “If this thing goes south on us in a great, big way, our rural hospitals would struggle.”
Justice said that if there is a fair or festival that had the ability to limit crowd size to 25 people and social distance those in attendance an exception could be made.
During his remarks, he compared West Virginia to Texas, which had very low COVID-related statistics like the Mountain State. Now, hospitals in Texas are nearing capacity. He showed a survey from Texas that showed the highest category of positive cases coming from bars. Dine-in restaurants, however, were on the more moderate end of the spectrum.
“We don’t want to be Texas,” Justice said. “There are a high number of students returning to school and are congregating in the bars. We are going to watch the numbers. We are very, very concerned. We have got to stop it and stop it right now.”
The new restrictions do not apply to public swimming pools, sporting events, WVSSAC-sanctioned activities and other recreational opportunities. However, protocols regarding social distancing and face covers still apply.
As of the governor’s briefing there are 1,338 COVID-positive cases with 62 currently being hospitalized and 96 deaths in West Virginia. This number has risen by 206 active cases since Friday. Monongalia County accounts for 194 of the new cases. Overall Monongalia has almost one-fourth of the state’s total with 340 active COVID-positive cases.