Justice announces more openings and hints at others

Gov. Jim Justice announced more reopenings and considerations of reopenings as part of West Virginia’s coronavirus response.

Today marked the first day for a return to Little League practices, as well as other low-contact outdoor youth sports.

Cathy Slemp

Public Health Officer Cathy Slemp advised parents and coaches to talk to young participants about precautionary guidelines such as social distancing.

“I think that is part of the role that coaches play, parents play, to really have a good conversation with the child to really understand what’s happening around them and help them comply with the same new rules of how we’re operating today,” Slemp said.

Justice announced during a daily briefing that summer youth camps may return June 22. That includes day camps and overnight camps. He said CDC guidelines will be followed.

And the governor said outdoor concerts will be allowed at fairs and festivals once those are allowed to resume July 1.

Justice said social distancing restrictions on whitewater rafting is likely to be eased.

Rafting, a major tourism draw in West Virginia, was allowed to begin its season May 21.

Social distancing restrictions limited group sizes to six people and one guide per raft. Groups were limited to those who arrive together and reside together.

“Our rafting industry tells us that because water conditions have been high and everything else, that we need to increase the number of people we can have in a raft. It makes for a safer experience,” Justice said.

“To tell you the truth, we’re going to go with what they tell us makes the safer experience. We are pushing them in every way to try in every way they can to social distance. But this is an outdoor activity, but we absolutely want it to be safe and safe in every way.”

And, responding to a question, Justice strongly hinted that there might soon be a revision of nursing home visitation rules.

One of Justice’s first actions in response to the coronavirus pandemic was to restrict visitation​ to all West Virginia nursing homes on March 12.

Justice said he met late last week with a few leaders in West Virginia’s nursing home industry.


“I’m waiting on them to come back to me on the guidelines, and everything,” Justice said, saying that could happen today. “But absolutely, I hear, I hear all kinds of voices screaming out. I hear it in my sleep to where a mom wants to see her children and maybe she’s in really bad health, and everything, or maybe she’s really old. And surely her children want to see her.

“And the same with a dad or whomever it may be in one of our nursing homes. There’s all kinds of steps that we’re taking right now.”

The governor said a working plan is to have visitors call in to a facility to book a time. Visitors would then check in while wearing masks, having a certain area to meet with loved ones in limited numbers.

A plan could be in place as soon as Wednesday, he said.

“I know there’s risk. There’s always risk involved, and everything,” he said. “But at the same time, a lot, a lot, a lot of these families if you don’t watch out are going to lose their loved one without being able to visit them, and that’s really bad.”


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