Health Law Monitor
WEST VIRGINIA GETS COVID-19
March 18, 2020
By: Alaina N. Crislip and Briana Cunningham Breault
On March 17, 2020 at 6p.m. West Virginia’s Governor Jim Justice announced the State’s much anticipated first positive COVID-19 test result.1 It was explained during the Governor’s announcement that the result was identified in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. News reports and WV DHHR state that the COVID-19 positive patient is not hospitalized but is receiving out-patient care. The Governor empathized with the citizens of West Virginia during his address and assured them that they would get through this global health pandemic.
After the identification of a positive COVID-19 case in West Virginia, the Governor ordered all restaurants and bars to close Tuesday night, March 17th. Carry-out and delivery services may still be provided to the public. During the same address, the Governor ordered all casinos to close and urged citizens to stay at least six feet from one another and to avoid grocery stores during busy hours.
Here is a listing of all recent actions taken by Governor Justice to limit community spread:
- High School Basketball Tournaments. All high school basketball tournaments were cancelled to avoid large crowds.
- Public & Private K-12 Schools - Closed. All K-12 schools as well as related extracurricular activities closed on March 13, 2020. The announcement was presented as indefinite, but later a reevaluation date of March 27, 2020 was presented. If WV follows the lead of other states, schools will likely be closed significantly longer.
- Restaurant & Bar Closure. All restaurants and bars were ordered to close by Tuesday night, March 17.2 Carry out and delivery services may still be provided to the public. Additionally, as of Wednesday, March 18, 2020, the sale of sealed bottles of wine and unopened beer products to customers who have purchased food is legal.3
- Gyms, Health Club, & Recreational Facility Closure. All gyms, health clubs, and recreational facilities were ordered to close by Wednesday night, March 18.4
Additional Business Closings. All casinos were ordered to be closed by Tuesday night, March 17.5
- State Government Operations/Remote Staffing. The DMV offices will remain open and operational. However, each location will permit no more than 10-20 individuals inside their offices at any time. On March 18, Gov. Justice ordered all cabinet secretaries in his administration to determine non-essential employee positions and allow those employees to begin working from home.6
- State Government Travel Measures. A travel ban is placed on all WV State employees on March 12, 2020. The Governor asks all WV citizens to reconsider all non-essential out-of-state travel.
- Nursing Homes - Visitor Limits. The Governor requested that nursing homes place a limit on visitors. A majority of nursing homes and other health care facilities have imposed visitor limitations.
Although the Governor has taken much needed proactive steps, West Virginia will likely take additional steps to promote social distancing in the coming days. Both the State of West Virginia and the nation await to see how this global health emergency will unfold.
Jackson Kelly will continue to provide updates on this ever-evolving situation as it continues to develop.
1 Please visit the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources at https://dhhr.wv.gov/COVID-19/Pages/default.aspx for the most up-to-date information regarding the number of tests provided, confirmed, and pending.
2 See the Executive Order at https://governor.wv.gov/Documents/2020%20Executive%20Orders/Executive-Order-March-18-2020.pdf.
5 See the Executive Order