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Transcript: Gov. Jim Justice’s Tuesday Address On First Confirmed Case of Coronavirus

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Gov. Jim Justice in state address Tuesday evening

Check back here for the latest coverage on the coronavirus.

Hello, everyone, I'm Governor Jim Justice, and I really appreciate you joining me tonight. 

We've got some things to talk about that are very serious, very concerning. But I want you, again, to listen closely and not be fearful and not panic. Over the last several weeks, I've been working with all of our health superstars. They've been feeding me all kinds of different information as well as our great General Hoyer with our great National Guard. 

We have a real plan. We developed a plan of preparedness and from that a plan of action. A plan to be ready as this terrible virus got closer and closer to our shores. Now, it's a serious, serious time. And just moments before I was able to come on tonight and talk with you, our health officials came to me and said now we do have our first positive, confirmed, in the Eastern Panhandle. 

Now, from that I would tell you just this: we knew it was coming. We prepared for this and we shouldn't panic. We should be cautious. We should be concerned. But we should not panic. We should go ahead and try to live our lives as best we can. But again, we should not panic.

We should not be fearful. We should not be afraid. We should be smart at this time. We should absolutely not be weak and we ought to be West Virginia Mountaineer-strong — always.

I know, at this time, there's been all kinds of inconvenience. Your kids have been out of school. We canceled the state basketball tournament. You want to go to a nursing home and see maybe a mom or dad and you can't maybe go at this time. For all that, I apologize because I'm terribly sorry.

There's also the economic component to this. And as you look at the economic component, I'd say over and over and over that our nation and our state is going to have to step up and keep you whole as best we possibly can. I can assure you that my real friend, Donald Trump, is absolutely all on board with trying to do just that. And I assure you from the standpoint of the state of West Virginia and our legislators, we'll do the same. 

Now, in addition to that, there's the health concern and this is where I really feel the most pain. Because if by chance, I left a stone unturned, and at the end of the day, you know, in trying to do something to cure an inconvenience or cure an economic issue, I exposed others to a situation to where you lost a loved one — How do we overcome that? How do we replace that? And it just can't be done.

Now, I'll tell you without any question whatsoever, last days or the last week have been tough. They’ve been lonely and tough for Cathy and I, our family and all of you who have been good enough to send many, many, many prayers.

Now, like I said, this is a serious, serious problem. Tonight I'm going to give you a pathway to solving this problem. I'm telling you just this and I am tonight mandating that we close restaurants and bars. And we close our casinos. Now with that we'll be able to have carry out at our bars and restaurants. But we have to close our casinos and we have to close our restaurants and our bars from the standpoint of people gathering in those and transmitting this terrible disease — or potentially transmitting.

But I said I was going to give you a pathway. And I'm going to ask you something really, really special. Tonight, you've got to join me. We're all in this boat together. We have to do this. The pathway to absolutely the prevention of this disease spreading — and this is a once in all of our lifetimes event that is happening here, a pandemic. None of us have ever gone through a pandemic. But this is real. And it's really concerning.

Now, here's the pathway: this disease, our power, our power to combat this disease is being apart from one another. Our power is already at work in that our communities are diverse in their different spots and our mountains and all the things that are already working for us. But our power is just this: We have to take seriously all the hygiene recommendations. We have to take seriously the ability to stay six foot apart from one another. We have to take seriously the ability to stay away from our crowds, help our elderly, go to the grocery stores for our elderly. And if you show up at the grocery store and the grocery store’s full of people don't go at that time.

We've got to be really smart. We have to use our power. Our power that we feel like is inconveniencing us and hurting us, is our power to destroy this terrible disease. 

Now, West Virginia is absolutely the greatest place on Earth. The greatest people. I couldn't be more proud or more humbled to be in this position right now. I don't run from this position. I'm absolutely proud to be your governor, and to try to do everything in my power to keep you safe, to keep you healthy. You see, at the end of the day, the thing that is the most fearful of all is just this: We stand back asleep at the switch a little bit, and then all of a sudden this thing grabs hold. And then what happens is we cover up our medical professionals. We cover up our hospitals with those that are really sick and we can't treat them in a way that we want to be able to treat them. And then on top of that, we even have the potential of contaminating or getting our doctors sick. 

Now, you've got to listen to me, we've got to be in this boat together. We've absolutely got to join hands and use our power. Our power is to be apart — be apart, be smart, look after each other and try in every way, shape, form or fashion to move ourselves forward. Like I said before: we will try in every way to make our businesses whole and to make those — all of our employees whole that they will not be out, they will not be out dollars from paychecks and have a financial burden on top of them.

And lastly, I just say these words: by the grace of God shepherding us in every way shape, form or fashion, we'll get through this will win and will protect our people to every to the best of all of our abilities in every way, shape, form or fashion. Again, I thank you for joining me tonight. And I'll be with you thick or thin till the very very end in every way and we're going to win. We're going to beat this bad, bad disease. Thank you and every way. God bless you.


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