Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to visit The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia today for a series of appearances with Gov. Jim Justice.
Pence, the leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, was set to make short remarks with West Virginia officials about the pandemic. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was expected to join Pence for remarks.
Pence was set to meet with Justice, a fellow Republican, on efforts to combat COVID-19 and safely reopening West Virginia.
West Virginia, up to now, has been hit only relatively hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with 8,457 total cases and 160 deaths reported by the state through Saturday morning.
However, there are increasing worries about the spread of the virus, particularly in rural areas of the state such as Logan County, which the state listed Saturday with 303 active cases and 11 deaths.
Justice has been leading West Virginia’s response, frequently describing the balance between the state’s health and maintaining economic progress.
The governor issued a statewide mask order weeks ago and recently instituted a second ban on visitors for nursing homes after several outbreaks.
Justice has delayed the start of public schools in West Virginia but has said he would like for students to be able to return in person, while attempting steps toward safety.
On Friday, Justice rolled out a color-coded map to show residents of West Virginia counties whether in-class education would be considered safe. It is based on a rolling 7-day average of newly-identified cases, adjusted per 100,000.
Justice is the owner of The Greenbrier and also faces a re-election challenge by Democrat Ben Salango, a Kanawha County commissioner in the area surrounding the state capital.
Today’s event also includes fundraiser activities for the Trump-Pence campaign, hosted by Justice.
The price to participate is not pocket change. The invitation starts with roundtable seating available for $25,000 a person.
There’s an $11,200 per person level that includes a photo opportunity.
There’s a $2,800 per person luncheon.
Spotted at the resort this morning were Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Congressman Carol Miller, R-W.Va., Melody Potter, the West Virginia Republican Party Chairwoman and Bray Cary, senior aide to Governor Justice.
Greenbrier guests are to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines.
The governor last month lowered West Virginia’s social gathering limit from 100 people down to 25.
“The 25-person limitation applies only to purely social gatherings,” according to state guidelines.
The limit does not apply to “group meetings, conferences or other special events held for essential businesses and operations, as defined by the emergency order signed by Justice. “Such meetings, conferences, or other special events will need to plan for social distancing between attendees based on CDC recommendations.”
Justice, questioned by West Virginia media last week, did not describe which one of those kinds of gatherings a political fundraiser might be.
On Wednesday, governor said he did not know much about the visit at all.
“This is not a fundraiser for me, and it’s an absolute fundraiser for our president and our vice president,” Justice said today.
“I’ll be there, and I’ll greet our vice president as I always would try to do. But from the standpoint of how The Greenbrier’s handling it or the size of the crowd, and everything, there will be no crowd and I’m sure The Greenbrier will handle it very well.”
Vice President Pence was returning to Washington, D.C., this evening.