Kanawha now part of Justice’s new pandemic executive order

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice added Kanawha, Monongalia and Harrison counties to an executive order Saturday night allowing stricter enforcement of his previous stay-at-home order.

Justice said increasing confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the three counties were increasing chances for clusters to form. The counties are being added to a Friday night executive order naming Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties. The order gives broad powers to local health departments.

Justice said he had been monitoring the counties Saturday.

“I have been monitoring this situation all day and decided to take this action tonight after my medical experts advised me that these counties are the next areas where community clusters may soon develop,” Justice said Saturday night. “The additional measures I took yesterday for the Eastern Panhandle need to be applied to these counties as well. Today, we had reports of crowds at stores with the nice spring weather, but to stop the spread of COVID-19 we MUST stay at home as much as possible and we MUST remember to socially distance when we go out for necessities. The stay-at-home order and the guidelines by our medical experts need to be taken very seriously at this time.”

Justice said 38 percent of the state’s positive COVID-19 cases are in the three counties he added Saturday night and 62 percent of the cases when the Eastern Panhandle is added.

“The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department will work to follow the guidelines of the executive order and establish the social distancing and maximum occupancy requlations for the essential businesses,” Dr. Sherri Young, Chief Health Officer for Kanawha-Charleston Health Department said.

Kanawha County reported 59 confirmed cases as of Saturday evening. The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department ordered mandatory quarantine Saturday for those with COVID-19 and Sheriff Mike Rutherford said he was ready to enforce it.

“When someone ordered to quarantine fails to follow the instructions they will face consequences. Our office will work with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney to take action deemed necessary and appropriate in each situation,” Rutherford said.

Provisions of the governor’s Executive Order include:

Limiting groups to a maximum of 5 people.
Directing ALL businesses to require employees to work from home to the maximum extent possible.
Directing the Local Health Departments to establish the maximum occupancy of and proper social distance within essential businesses and taking action to enforce these health regulations.
Directing the West Virginia National Guard to provide logistical support and services to assist county agencies.
Directing the West Virginia State Police to assist with enforcement of local county orders.