A 10-day shutdown of bars in Monongalia County — experiencing an upsurge in COVID-19 cases among young adults — is likely to be extended, Gov. Jim Justice said during his COVID-19 briefing Monday.
“All indicators right now are, we’re going to have to extend that closure,” Justice said, adding, “If we’re at the end of the week, and we’re still reporting numbers like we’re reporting, I’ll extend it.”
During his July 13 briefing, citing a state-high surge of cases linked to Morgantown bars catering to young adults, Justice ordered bars in Monongalia County closed for 10 days, a shutdown order that currently would expire, effective on Friday.
“We all know the number-one most dangerous spots we have right now is these bars,” he said of high infection rates in bar settings.
With reports of COVID-19 outbreaks in seven churches in seven counties, Justice urged church-goers to wear face masks and practice social distancing, saying, “It may not be the worst place to perpetuate this disease, but it surely has to be high on the list.”
State Public Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad said the cases are in single churches in Boone, Grant, Logan, Kanawha, Raleigh, Taylor and Wood counties. The outbreaks account for about 75 total cases combined.
Meanwhile, during Friday’s COVID-19 briefing, Justice and state coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh debunked several bits of misinformation about coronavirus circulating on social media, including claims of a 99.93% recovery rate for those infected by the virus — a statement that President Donald Trump repeated during an interview with Chris Wallace aired on Fox News Sunday.
Justice said Monday of Trump’s claim, “I have no right to instruct him on what to say or not to say. That would be preposterous.”
On Monday, Justice and Marsh suggested Trump was using “a different metric” to come up with a 0.07 mortality rate for COVID-19. Marsh said the current mortality rate in the U.S. is 3.8% of all cases.
Justice said of Trump, “He catches it from a lot of different angles, especially from the media, that always wants to look at a thousand-pot things, and find the one thing that’s a fallacy. That’s not fair. It’s just not fair because the man is doing a marvelous job.”
Justice closed the briefing by noting that U.S. COVID-19 deaths have topped the 140,000 threshold, adding, “We’re going to be really, really lucky in the United States if we don’t exceed 200,000.”
“How in the world have we lost 140,000-plus people in the United States, and a country with multiple tens of millions of people has lost four or 18 or something like that?” Justice said, referring to South Korea, a country of 51.27 million that has had fewer than 300 COVID-19 deaths. “The thing is, they wear masks, and they wear masks all the time.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of coronavirus cases per church.