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Governor urges more COVID testing, promises news of Mon bar closures

Gov. Jim Justice considers President Donald Trump a personal friend — and he isn’t shy about saying it on the record.
On Wednesday, though, the governor broke away from the president a bit.
That’s when he told reporters he didn’t think Trump’s intimations of suspending a promised coronavirus stimulus package until after next month’s election would be good for the country.
The U.S. House and Senate are grappling with dollar signs, decimal points and zeros in the back-and-forth over the package, which, depending upon your lawmaker’s side of the aisle in Washington, could total between $1.6 trillion and $2 trillion.
Washington, though, isn’t West Virginia, Justice said during his regularly scheduled COVID-19 briefing.
And here, he said, it’s about knee-buckling — not negotiations.
It’s easy to see restaurants and other small businesses across the state that are “super-struggling,” the governor said, as jobs, cash reserves and unemployment benefits wither.
The House bill version, with its $1,200 outlay geared mainly to middle- and low-income families, along with a restoration of the $600 offering in unemployment benefits, would be a fiscal life preserver for just about everyone here, he said.
Waiting until after the election is only going to make already murky waters even more so, Justice said.
“I don’t want him to do that,” Justice said, of the possible gambit by a president who is also being treated for COVID-19.
“And I do not think that’s the thing to do … So, from the standpoint of postponing it? Terrible.”

Meanwhile, Justice on Wednesday did what he’s done 133 times prior over the past six months, when the coronavirus first started making its acquaintance with the Mountain State.
He talked — and took questions from reporters, via telephone and Zoom.

Breaking it down

He began, as always, with a roll call of West Virginians who died of coronavirus complications from the last time he spoke.
Wednesday’s accounting included two nurses who worked, respectively, at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown and Mildred Mitchell Bateman Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Huntington.
In contrast, he reported West Virginia’s current reproductive number of .83 — the second-best in the nation. That number gauges how easily the virus can be transmitted from one person to an another.
The governor noted the 50 confirmed COVID cases in 18 schools across the state, to go with the four in correctional facilities here, including two at Mount Olive, the state’s maximum-security facility for men in Fayette County.
To date, he said, there are 41 outbreaks in long-term nursing care centers across the state and 13 in churches across nine counties, including Harrison, in north-central West Virginia.

Protocols, schools and bars

Justice’s staff wears masks, and he does too, he said.
So do the people who meet in the capital complex for state business, the governor said, when asked about Trump’s diagnosis and the ongoing outbreak in the West Wing at the White House.
Both the governor and Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s COVID-19 czar, defended the methodology behind the state and county alert maps that chart cases here.
Up to half of the schools in state would be “shut down” Justice said, had West Virginia stayed with the Harvard Global model, which was the template for the versions used by the state Department of Health and Human Resources and state Department of Education.
Marsh, meanwhile, encouraged all West Virginians to simply get tested for the coronavirus, and the governor agreed — reporting that 85 potential “super-spreaders” of the pathogen were netted at a recent testing event in Kanawha County.
The governor promised news concerning Monongalia County bar closures for his next briefing, which is Friday.

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