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Justice’s team urges precautions in view of Myrtle Beach infections, church outbreaks

MORGANTOWN — A second church in Greenbrier County has had some attendees test positive for COVID-19, Gov. Jim Justice said during Friday’s press briefing.

But it’s not a new outbreak, Bureau of Public Health Commissioner Cathy Slemp clarified. People at this unnamed church were exposed to infected attendees from Graystone Baptist Church, one of six churches that experienced outbreaks. They are notifying people who may have been exposed; the church will be closed for services for two weeks in case anyone gets sick; and they are cleaning the church.

The total number of positives at Graystone is up to 34, Justice said.

Slemp also addressed the Myrtle Beach, S.C., infections. About 25 to 30 people in five West Virginia counties – including Preston – who’ve traveled to Myrtle have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, she said.

She said people planning to travel need to think about where they’re going and what precautions they need to take when they travel and after they return. She didn’t urge a complete self-quarantine upon return, but said travelers should monitor their symptoms for 14 days, stay home as much as possible, and wear masks and observe social distancing if they go out or go to work.

Justice said that anyone who opts to travel to Myrtle Beach ought to think twice about it, but if they go, get tested upon return, and self-quarantine.

COVID-19 Czar Clay Marsh pointed out that the U.S. Has the world’s highest two-week total of new cases, a quarter of the positive cases (2.2 million out of 8.6 million) and almost half the deaths (118,79 out of 456,881).

While West Virginia’s positive rate hasn’t risen significantly, he said, the issues of travel-based infections and the church outbreaks highlight the need for masks, distancing and the other precautions.

Many of the press questions were variations on what will Justice do if things get worse, and his answers were roughly the same each time.

“Are we wiling to try to live with the rough seas and have as much normalcy as we can or are we going to lock ourselves down,” he said in answer to one.

In general, he said they have to run to the fires, be ready to pivot, be ready for such measures as mandatory masks but also beware of resistance to rolling back or enforcing stricter methods. “We’re going ot watch it as closely as we can and if we have a problems we’ll have to change.”

Among his news nuggets, Justice said he’d be signing an executive order on Friday allowing high school graduation ceremonies to proceed. In view of the outbreaks, thought, he urged people to stay apart and wear masks.

He also commented on the recently announced decision of the State Fair Board to reverse course and cancel the fair, which was set for August. The Fair Board, he said, took into account the outbreaks here and in other states that have seen problems after reopening, and considered the crowds that would gather at the fairgrounds. “Even though we’ll miss the fair in every way, we all still respect that.”

The Dominion Post passed along a question posed to it by some elected officials who’ve been approached by volunteer fire departments. The VFDs are struggling financially from not holding fundraisers. They wanted to know how they can go about holding them, and how they can obtain some CARES Act money to pay bills coming due.

To the first question, Justice repeated what he’d said before. Their fundraising was never prohibited. But they may want to consider some creative, alternate ways to do it – such as virtual fundraisers.

To the second, he told VFDs, “Please call us, just call us.” They can talk with his people and see if there’s something in the guidelines that will fit their situation. There may not be, but they should call and ask. His office number is 304-558-2000.

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