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West Virginia Primary Elections Postponed Due to COVID-19


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ/WHSV) — As COVID-19 continues to spread, West Virginia’s governor has made a decision to postpone the state’s primary elections.

While state officials had been encouraging people to plan to vote absentee, on Wednesday, April 1, Gov. Jim Justice announced that the state’s primary election, originally set for May 12, will be moved to June 9.

That’s the same day that Virginia will hold a Republican primary to determine the party’s nominee to run for Senate against Mark Warner and the nominee in a few House of Representatives races as well.

“I want everyone to know this, the privilege of voting is so important and I support allowing the people of West Virginia to vote by every way possible,” Gov. Justice said. “Like our seniors, who take great pride in going to the polls like they have all their lives. I don’t want to take that away from them.”

“Now I asked my medical experts, based on where we are today with COVID-19, can the people of West Virginia safely vote in the primary election on May 12 at their polling place?” Justice asked. “So today, after working closely with our great Secretary of State and Attorney General, we are announcing a 27-day delay in the election. I will sign the executive order today.”

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey confirmed that Gov. Justice has the power to change the date of the election and that he believes the decision unquestionably “protects and defends the constitutional rights of West Virginians” while also protecting the “health and safety” of citizens and poll workers.

In Justice’s Wednesday morning briefing, he also announced that public and private K-12 schools across the state will remain closed through at least April 30, extending updated guidance he issued last week that pushed the school closure date back to April 20.

He also urged all state residents to fill out the U.S. Census, online if possible.

On Monday, Gov. Justice issued an executive order requiring out-of-state visitors coming from states with many more coronavirus cases to self-quarantine for 14 days and he ordered the closure of all state park campgrounds. Tuesday, he ordered private campgrounds to close to out-of-state visitors who are staying for less than two weeks.


COVID-19 cases confirmed in West Virginia

As of Tuesday, March 31, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) had confirmed 162 cases of COVID-19 across the Mountain State.

According to the department’s afternoon update on Tuesday, 17 new coronavirus cases were identified from Monday to Tuesday, including a newly confirmed case in Hardy County, the first in that area.

According to the Hardy County Health Department, a patient who had been traveling has been self-quarantined since arriving home in Hardy County and has followed all proper CDC protocols since that time to protect their community members.

By Tuesday afternoon, 4,143 West Virginia residents had been tested for COVID-19, with 162 positive results, as well as 3,981 negative results. The state has had one confirmed death due to the virus.

Medical providers in the state are required to report test results to their local health departments, which then provide them to DHHR, which updates their state website each evening.

Private commercial labs also have to send their test results to DHHR. However, state officials say the reporting of negative and pending tests from commercial labs has been inconsistent, resulting in delays in reporting.