Reopening malls in West Virginia ‘weeks away’ as other states report increases of coronavirus cases

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Malls across West Virginia are “weeks away” from reopening as cases in states that have loosened shopping rules have seen increases in positive coronavirus cases.

Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch spent part of Thursday’s daily coronavirus briefing answer a question about a timeline for the Charleston Town Center mall to reopen. Most stores in the mall have been closed since March 24 because of the pandemic.

“We must be very careful in terms of social distancing. We have to be careful in terms of sanitation stations and in terms of hygiene,” he said. “All of the things we have been talking about for the past two or three months are still in place. In fact, more important than they have been.”

Crouch and state Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh noted increased cases in states that have allowed more businesses to reopen. Marsh noted the state of Georgia; state officials have reported 231 deaths, a quarter of the Georgians who have died in connection with the pandemic.

“We have some local businesses that are interested in reopening and a lot of other folks,” Crouch said. “We’ll move deliberately and slowly and try to keep people safe.”

The state Department of Health and Human Resources reported Thursday evening 1,297 positive coronavirus cases. The statewide death total remains at 51.