Justice introduces reopening plan; hinges on positive test rate remaining below 3 percent

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice unveiled a six-week reopening plan for the Mountain State Monday as it tries to regain its footing following the impact of the coronavirus.

Justice rolled out what he’s calling “West Virginia Strong: The Comeback” at his coronavirus media briefing at the state capitol.

Justice said the plan hinges on the state maintaining a less than three percent positive test rate for the coronavirus for three consecutive days.The rate was at 2.47 percent Monday morning. Justice said everyone in the state can follow the numbers.

Gov. Jim Justice

“So it gives us the metrics. The metrics to where you can watch it, I can watch it and absolutely all the health officials can watch it and we can stay right on top of it together,” Justice said.

MORE Read Reopening Plan here

The plan currently does not include lifting Justice’s stay-at-home order that went into effect March 25. The plan also gives no timeline for the reopening of nursing home visitation, movie theaters, sporting events, concerts or any other gatherings over 25.

Justice said the first week of the reopening, which again would begin after three straight days of a positive test rate under three percent, includes hospitals restarting elective procedures followed by outpatient health care services and the reopening of daycare facilities with testing.

Week 2, according to Justice, would include small business with fewer than 10 workers, professional services, like barber shops by appointment only, outdoor dining, church services and funeral services with social distancing practiced.

The Week 3 through Week 6 rollout would include the reopening of office/government buildings, special retail stores, parks and associated facilities, gyms, dine-in restaurants, hotels, casinos, spas and remaining small businesses.

Justice said there will be further instructions to come.

“Each week we will announce what’s going to happen the next week a week in advance,” Justice said.

Justice said several things could stop, slow or reverse the reopenings including an unexpected increase in hospitalizations for COVID-19, significant community spread or if the positive test rate goes above three percent.

“We’re going to have strike teams that are going to be there (for community spread) instantaneously and then we’re going to evaluate from the standpoint of the numbers,” Justice said. “It may be we have an area of the state of West Virginia where we have to back up significantly but other areas are moving forward.”

Justice called the rollout a “great plan.”

“We’re going to monitor. We’re going to watch and we’re going to take small steps and as we take small steps we’ll see where we are and if we have to stop or slow or backup that’s what we’ll do,” Justice said.

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