Gov. Jim Justice bellied up to the bar Monday for Monongalia County.
He decreed that drinking establishments here would reopen as per his earlier order.
Taps will again flow despite a recent surge of coronavirus cases that tipped the county from yellow to orange on the risk-assessment scale that morning.
Justice said the earlier last call, as it were, was issued “umpteen” days ago.
“That decision was made when our numbers were coming down, down, down,” he said.
Plus, he said, the issuance came before the new metric was in place. He wanted to be fair to owners in that regard, he said.
Even so, he said, there are no more rounds on the house. Owners must abide by the rules, no matter what.
That means no one under 21 will be admitted, he said. Dance floors will be closed off and bandstands will be devoid of live entertainment.
And, depending upon how rowdy COVID-19 gets, the governor stressed, owners will have to ready for the same thing to happen all over again.
“If this Mon County situation trends in the orange,” he said, “we’ll have to shut back down.”
No takers on testing
The governor, meanwhile, got shot down when he offered to ramp up testing for a trio of COVID-affected counties.
His measure might have allowed high schools in Kanawha, Fayette and Logan counties to field teams for their fall football openers this week.
The three are all currently showing orange, and Logan, in fact, recently got out of the red designation, which is the worst hue of the color-coded metric that charts the coronavirus across West Virginia.
Justice’s offer? If everyone across the board tested negative — that means players, coaches, cheerleaders and the marching band — everyone could take the field.
The governor was ready to commit to the extra testing, saying the week before next Tuesday’s first day of classes would offer a better chance for the process to be taken on without distraction.
All three counties, though, turned down the offer, media outlets reported.
Kanawha County Schools said it would rather play rescheduled games, instead.
Justice said the games were just the half of it.
While there were no takers for the broad testing, Justice said the idea, in the sports vernacular, was worth a shot. The points scored, said the governor, himself a longtime basketball high school basketball coach, would mean Friday night lights and low cases of the lethal virus that has claimed the lives of 214 West Virginians, to date.
More importantly, he said, students wouldn’t just be in their game uniforms: They would be in their actual classrooms, in front of their actual teachers.
State Schools Superintendent Clayton Burch gave the governor’s observances an A. Many families, Burch said, don’t have access to Wi-Fi or babysitters.
A child trying to go it alone academically, via remote, is in far worse straits, the superintendent added.
“Young children especially suffer because they don’t have the cognitive ability to learn on their own,” he said.