By Sarah Richardson
Governor Justice announced his Week 3 plan of “The Comeback” earlier this week, which permits the opening of wellness centers and drive-in movie theaters starting Monday, May 11.
Justice’s plan defines wellness facilities as “gyms and fitness centers supervised by licensed professionals” which applies to facilities that offer exercise therapy, physical therapy, post-operative therapy, and/or rehabilitative therapy programs to individuals. The guidance is not intended to apply to gyms and recreational facilities generally, which remain closed as of now.
Additional guidance documents have been released for these businesses to ensure they are reopening in the safest manner possible for all West Virginians.
The Governor’s Office will announce what businesses will be permitted to open in Weeks 4-6 as soon as possible. Additional guidance on reopening will be made available for each of these businesses at that time.
Last Monday saw the start of Week 2 of reopenings, including outdoor dining, hair salons, nail salons, pet groomers, and more. Increased traffic downtown shows that many are taking advantage of the openings, despite rising numbers of COVID-19 in the county.
Greenbrier County had only three positive tests initially, but that number has now risen to eight. On May 1, the Greenbrier County Health Department said, “As longterm care facilities have been testing all staff and residents in accordance with the Governor’s executive order, Greenbrier County Health Department has identified two new cases. Both cases are residents of the same facility. Health Department and facility staff are working closely together to ensure the safety of the other residents and the staff.”
The number of total cases rose to six by May 3 and eight cases by May 7.
As of May 7, there have been 1,287 total cases reported in the state and 51 deaths.
Despite the rise, Justice announced this week that West Virginia’s statewide rate of COVID-19 transmission was the lowest of any state in the country. He added that West Virginia’s statewide cumulative rate of positive COVID-19 tests dropped once again to 2.27 percent.
“The national average is 16 percent,” Gov. Justice said. “Virginia is at 17 percent, Pennsylvania is at 20 percent, Ohio is at 13 percent, Maryland is at 19 percent, and Kentucky is at 8.5 percent.
“You really have done an amazing, amazing job.”