Governor of W.Va grapples with Covid over basketball ruling | Health

The Greenbrier County community was grappling with twin issues on Friday, both peaking around the same time Governor Jim Justice issued a terrible warning about Covid-related deaths in Mountain State.

In Lewisburg, members of the Greenbrier County School Board spent about an hour behind closed doors in executive session Friday, discussing a grievance filed by the governor, who again wants to be the head basketball coach of the Men’s Greenbrier East team but, to date, has been turned down.

Later today, the Greenbrier County Health Department implemented a county-wide indoor mask mandate “effective immediately” as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to increase. ‘to augment. In response, the chairman of the county commission issued his own press release saying that while he took seriously his responsibility to protect the citizens of the county, “It is also our duty to protect the rights of the citizens of this county”.

And during a pandemic press briefing in Charleston, before reading a list of 57 people added to the state’s Covid death toll during a pandemic press briefing the same day, the governor said, “We are going to run to the fire and get vaccinated now or we are going to stack the body bags.

The county health department was taking matters into their own hands.

According to the press release, everyone in the county, regardless of their immunization status, is required to wear a mask or face covering over their mouth and nose inside any building open to the public.

There are exceptions for children under 2 years of age, people who have difficulty breathing for a documented medical reason, and anyone who is unconscious, unable or unable to remove the mask without assistance.

As governor, justice refused to intervene and institute mask warrants for the general public or for schools. He openly questioned the effectiveness of the masks in stopping the spread of the highly contagious disease and maintained that decisions on warrants would be left to local authorities.

Amid a public discussion about the spread of Covid and terms of office, the governor is continuing his efforts to coach the Greenbrier East men’s team this season.

The school board had voted 3-2 at the end of August to decline the governor’s candidacy for the post despite the support of District Superintendent Jeff Bryant and others in the community who point to Justice’s record of victories and the governor’s generosity to pay the team’s expenses during the tournament appearances in addition to the governor’s buying Christmas gifts for the community.

Justice coached the Greenbrier East boys from 2010 to 2017, stepping away from his post when he was first elected governor, and has coached the women’s team since 2000, winning a state championship in 2012.

No details of what was discussed behind closed doors were made public, and Bryant declined to say what the next step in the ongoing saga was.

In the event of a new refusal, the courts can go to mediation, which would refer the decision to an administrative judge or a private mediator. Beyond that, the governor can seek redress from an administrative judge and then appeal to the Kanawha County Court.

Justice and his family own The Greenbrier complex, which employs hundreds of people in the community and is an economic engine for Lewisburg and the county.

Bryant, who is director of entertainment at the Greenbrier, recommended that the board hire Justice. School board president’s husband, Jeannie Wyatt, rents space at the Greenbrier. She voted in favor of hiring the governor for the coaching job.

Justice already coaches the Greenbrier East women’s basketball team.

The grievance, filed by Steve Ruby, a private lawyer for Justice, indicates that Justice is the “most qualified” candidate.

He further states that Justice was interviewed by the principal of Greenbrier East High School, Ben Routson, as well as the deputy principal and athletic director of the school, and they “unanimously concluded that Mr. Justice was the right choice “.

In an email to the Register-Herald, Ruby pointed out Justice’s previous experience, which included training at “Greenbrier East for more than 20 years, including six years as head coach of the United Nations team. boys ”.

“Her record is 496-173,” Ruby noted.

Ruby said students “deserve a school system that chooses the most qualified candidate for any job, and the board of education has an obligation to act based on qualifications, not arbitrarily.” .

“We regret that we were forced to take on a challenge for the board,” Ruby wrote, “but it is important to ensure that the system works as intended for the benefit of the students, and we are confident in a positive outcome. . “

Members of the men’s team and their parents made an appearance at the August board meeting, saying they wanted a full-time coach, someone to show up for training, a responsibility that Justice said he would delegate to his assistants.

And as the coaching drama unfolded, Greenbrier County Health Council Vice Chairman Dr Drema Hill issued a press release saying health workers and health facilities had become overwhelmed. by the increase in Covid cases in recent weeks.

Under the mandate, all businesses – including The Greenbrier – and organizations that allow the public into their facilities will be required to implement ordering of masks on their premises and display adequate signage.

The press release specifies that the locations to which the mandate does not apply are: outdoor spaces; his residence; areas where individuals can isolate themselves in a physically separate office or other space in which no one else is present; and when actively engaged in the consumption of food or drink.

In a statement, the Greenbrier County commission said it would reconsider the warrant within 30 days.

“The rest of the county commission members and I take our responsibility to protect the residents of Greenbrier County very seriously,” Greenbrier County commission chairman Lowell Rose said in the statement. “It is also our duty to protect the rights of the citizens of this county, and we will examine the mandate, its effects on businesses, visitors and the health of the residents of this great county in which we live.”

The commission has the right to terminate the mandate early or extend it beyond the initial 30 days.

Transmission of Covid in the county has been among the highest in the state. As of Saturday, the infection rate had fallen to a seven-day moving average of 89.44, from 102.21 per 100,000 people two days earlier. A week ago, the rate was 84.49.

Over the past week, the seven-day trend shows there have been 233 cases in Greenbrier County with one death.

In terms of the state-wide spread of Covid, the Department of Health and Human Resources noted that the state had surpassed its previous pandemic record of active cases with 29,744 in its report on Friday. As of Saturday, the number had fallen to 27,525 with zero additional deaths.

But other statistics were on the move – in the wrong direction. Covid-related hospitalizations in Friday’s report came in at 922, then 955 on Saturday – of which 82.7% were unvaccinated patients.

Likewise, there were 277 Covid patients in intensive care on Friday, 299 on Saturday. And 169 patients had been intubated for mechanical respiratory assistance on Friday, 170 on Saturday. About 91 percent of the two groups were unvaccinated.

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