CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Republican Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday that West Virginia’s state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic will end at the start of the new year.
The state of emergency has been in effect since March 16, 2020. It allows the governor to suspend certain rules on personnel and purchasing.
“The truth is, the state of emergency doesn’t affect a whole lot, you know, anymore,” he said. “We absolutely declared an emergency at a time that we had an emergency. … Now, we need to move on.”
West Virginia has seen 7,605 COVID-19 related deaths to date, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University. That death count is the 36th highest in the country overall and the fifth highest per capita at 421.1 deaths per 100,000 people.
Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has decreased by 34.1, a decrease of 14.6%. There were 151.3 new cases per 100,000 people in West Virginia over the past two weeks, which ranks 31st in the country for new cases per capita. One in every 1,287 people in West Virginia tested positive in the past week.
Most U.S. states have now ended COVID-19-related emergency orders, or have orders in place that will expire in the coming weeks and months.
Justice said he held off ending West Virginia’s state of emergency so that officials could “double, triple check” that the state wouldn’t lose out on any opportunities to receive federal support dollars.
Justice had quietly issued a proclamation on Nov. 12 announcing that the state of emergency would be ending but waited until Wednesday to make a formal announcement.
“I saw no reason to make a great big hoopla about it,” he said Wednesday. “We can always go back and declare another emergency, but I think it’s time to move on.”