CHARLESTON — “It’s Myrtle Beach … Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach is an issue,” Gov. Jim Justice said Friday during his pandemic briefing.
Justice was discussing the surge of new COVID-19 cases in the southern counties, including Mercer, McDowell, Logan and Mingo.
“That’s where a lot of the problem has come from,” he said, adding that southern states have had outbreaks and it’s “migrating.”
Bill Crouch, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Resources, said during a briefing this week that he had recently visited Mingo and Logan counties and “had my eyes opened” after seeing the results of contact tracing.
It is not out-of-state visitors bringing the virus here, he said.
“It is of our own doing,” Crouch said of the surges. “These cases are coming from West Virginians who travel to Myrtle Beach (primarily).”
Although many tourists are coming to the southern West Virginia counties that are seeing surges to ride four-wheelers on the Hatfield-McCoy trail, that is not the problem.
“They have not found one case there that has happened (from out-of-state visitors),” he said. “Tourism is not the problem. They love West Virginia and come here to ride 4-wheelers. They aren’t bringing it in. These are West Virginians who are bringing it back.”
The recommendation for anyone returning from Myrtle Beach or other vacation destinations that are considered hotspots is to self-quarantine on return and get tested for the virus.
Justice has said before he urges everyone to do this as a preventive measure because the problem is growing.
He also said churches remain a concern where outbreaks continue to occur around the state.
Justice said the key to stopping this is to follow the guidelines that include using only every other pew, personal hygiene, physical distancing and wearing a mask.
“We can go to church and we can do it, but you have to be safe and follow the guidelines,” he said.
Justice also parted ways with Pres. Donald Trump on a key issue.
Trump has urged the return of students to classrooms and said this week children are “virtually immune” to COVID and the virus will just “go away.”
“I don’t write the scripts for our President,” Justice said. “Children have shown they have more resistance, but they are not immune.”
The percentage of children who catch the virus and develop problems with it is small, he said, but it happens.
“Children surely can get this and babies have gotten this,” he said.
Justice said this virus will not just go away.
“We are living in a live pandemic that will stay with us until we get the vaccine and drugs,” he said.
— Contact Charles Boothe at firstname.lastname@example.org