“Our health officials came to me and said we do have our first positive in the eastern panhandle,” West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said in an news conference on Tuesday. He said that bars and restaurants will be closed down.
“We knew it was coming, we’ve prepared for this and we shouldn’t panic,” Justice said.
The governor also called for social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We’re all in this boat together, we all have to do this, the pathway to the prevention of this disease spreading..none of us have ever gone through a pandemic. Our power to combat this disease is being apart from one another. We have to take seriously all the hygiene recommendations, the ability to stay six feet apart from one another, to stay away from crowds, help our elderly,” he said.
LIVE: Gov. Justice addresses West Virginia on COVID-19 response. For more information about #COVID19, call the State’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-877-4304 or visit https://t.co/Ad33fbC98s. #WV #WVGov https://t.co/sBNvmj8Qaz
— Governor Jim Justice (@WVGovernor) March 17, 2020
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) also issued a statement and said that “we all share the responsibility to prevent further spread of this virus and exercise responsible choices which include social distancing,” adding that he supports the governor’s decision to close down restaurants, bars, and casinos.
“I will continue working at the federal level, along with Governor Justice and others in the state to make sure we are doing everything in our power to help West Virginians and prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” said Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) in a statement.
The 49th state to confirm a case of COVID-19, a disease caused by the coronavirus, was Montana. Before that, Idaho and Alabama confirmed their first cases, respectively.
Washington was the first state in the country to confirm a COVID-19 case earlier this year.
The coronavirus, which first emerged in China last year, has presented a unique challenge to everyday life as businesses and schools were closed en masse across a number of states. Cities, counties, and states have also implemented measures to prevent mass gatherings.
President Donald Trump on Monday called on Americans to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people. He also called on people to avoid unnecessary travel.
A tally from Johns Hopkins University shows that as of Tuesday night, more than 6,400 people have tested positive for the virus in the United States, while more than 100 deaths have been reported.