Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in West Virginia, US, to lift some business restrictions starting April 30, maintain stay at home order until further notice.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Charleston, West Virginia
  • Huntington, West Virginia
  • Beckley, West Virginia
  • Parkersburg, West Virginia
  • Clarksburg, West Virginia
  • Morgantown, West Virginia
  • Wheeling, West Virginia

This alert began 30 Apr 2020 13:30 GMT and is scheduled to expire 08 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): West Virginia (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and movement restrictions, significant transport and business disruptions

West Virginia Governor James Justice announced a plan to lift business restrictions in phases, starting April 30, while maintaining orders requiring residents to stay at home except to perform essential tasks until further notice. These actions are part of the state's efforts to combat coronavirus disease (COVID-19). In the first phase, nonurgent health care operations may resume, including medical procedures, primary care, dentistry, physical therapy, and psychological health.

Phase two is scheduled to begin May 4: businesses with fewer than 10 workers will be allowed to reopen, as well as personal care businesses such as hair salons and barbershops. Restaurants may offer outdoor dining services, and churches and funeral homes may allow in-person services while limiting their capacity. Customers at personal care businesses must make an appointment and must wait in their cars until the start of their appointment. All businesses must implement social distancing as much as possible, and enhance sanitation. Workers and customers must wear face coverings. Authorities will announce phases 3-6 of the economic reopening in the coming days.

Essential businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, fuel stations, healthcare facilities, security, transport, and energy companies, are allowed to continue operations. Other nonessential businesses must remain closed, although employees are allowed to work from home whenever possible. All residents are encouraged to wear face coverings when social distance measures are difficult to apply. The stay at home order will remain in place until further notice. Residents are allowed to leave their residences to obtain basic goods, attend a medical issue, care for a person in need, go to work at a business or service allowed to operate, and perform outdoor recreational activities while maintaining proper distance from others.

Travelers who have been in New York, Louisiana, Connecticut, New Jersey, Italy, or China in the 14 days prior to their entry in West Virginia must self-quarantine for 14 days. The measure will not apply to any commercial activity, including truckers or people who move in and out of the state for work purposes.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will almost certainly deploy additional security personnel to assist in enforcing the measure. Officials could amend the order on short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures are likely to accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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