West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR)
has confirmed the fifth COVID-19 outbreak at
churches in West Virginia, with the most recent outbreak occurring in
Greenbrier County. At least 17 cases have been identified at a Greenbrier
Gov. Jim Justice
immediately ordered the DHHR, West Virginia National Guard, and Greenbrier
County Health Department to respond to this outbreak. The Greenbrier County
Health Department is managing the outbreak with good cooperation from the
church and contact
investigation is underway. Gov. Justice has ordered the National Guard to
immediately go to the site to begin decontamination, and they will be on site
tomorrow. The church has closed for 14 days environmental cleaning with
support from the National Guard and the health department is providing guidance
on prevention measures.
“I want to strongly
encourage all West Virginians, especially when in church settings, to follow
the guidelines and use every other pew, maintain social distancing, and please wear
masks,” Gov. Justice said. “A lot of the attendance at our churches are those
that are elderly and at higher risk, so we are cautioning everyone to strictly
follow our guidelines. As I have said many times, we will have stormy seas
before we get a vaccine, so it is imperative that we strictly follow the
guidelines or the seas will only get rougher.”
Gov. Justice has directed
the West Virginia National Guard and DHHR in collaboration with the Greenbrier
County Health Department to host two additional free testing events tomorrow,
Sunday, June 14 and Monday, June 15, in Greenbrier County at Dorie Miller Park
in Lewisburg from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
“I encourage anyone that
has any level of concern to come and be tested,” Gov. Justice added.
“There are several key
lessons to be learned from these outbreaks. Practicing good prevention measures
do make a difference, such as wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart and using good
hygiene,” said Dr. Cathy Slemp, State Health Officer and Commissioner of DHHR’s
Bureau for Public Health. “Out of state travel can be a risk and precautions should
be taken upon return to West Virginia. Finally, please stay home from work or
other community events if you are not feeling well.”
The other counties that have experienced
outbreaks in churches are Boone, Hampshire, Jefferson, and Marshall counties.
To protect the possibility of identifying individuals, the churches will not be
named by DHHR.