by Kate Shunney
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has announced a Stay at Home order for state residents beginning on Tuesday, March 24 at 8 p.m. The order remains in place until the state lifts it, said officials. Justice put the order in place on Monday during an early afternoon press conference.
Justice said this measure is not martial law and will not close state borders, but will close all non-essential businesses in West Virginia Tuesday night.
Justice said residents can leave home to perform or receive essential services, like getting food or medical care. Workers in essential businesses will continue to go to work. People can also leave home to check on family members, Justice said.
Details about which businesses qualify as essential are available in a document on the Governor’s website. That document can be read here COVID19_Stay at Home WV(1).
Dr. Clay Marsh of West Virginia University said two things have pushed West Virginia to take these steps – an increase in the number of cases being confirmed and evidence of community spread.
“We knew the prevention measures we were taking weren’t sufficient,” said Dr. Marsh.
Marsh said controlling the rate of spread of the coronavirus through closures, social distancing and hygiene will reduce the death rate from the virus.
“We don’t want our very vulnerable population to be overwhelmed,” he said.
West Virginia National Guard General James Hoyer said National Guard forces in the state will support state efforts to feed school children and senior citizens, gather testing data and train retailers and others in prevention measures for workers in essential businesses.
He said Guard members will use their skills and capabilities “to be a force multiplier” for all state functions.
State officials have said state residents have an opportunity to reduce transmission of the novel coronavirus through West Virginia communities by keeping people voluntarily separated.
Reducing the transmission rate will keep medical services and hospitals from being overwhelmed by a large wave of cases.
As of Monday afternoon, there were 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 – the disease caused by the coronavirus. More than 440 people tested were negative for the disease.
State officials expect that number to rise as testing becomes more widespread.
State data and guidance on COVID-19 is available from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources website: