CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice presented some good news at a press conference Tuesday regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and unemployment benefits.

“We have had no additional deaths,” Justice said. “We have a total of 412 positive tests (for the virus, plus four deaths).”

The positive rate continues to be below 4 percent, he said, referring to the percentage of people who test positive to the total number tested.

On Monday, that rate tracked at 1.6 percent, he said, with a cumulative average of 3.42 percent. “It’s getting better. I salute all the great work everybody is doing.”

Justice said the state rate is far better than the national average of between 8 percent and 9 percent of those tested who test positive.

For those receiving or applying for unemployment benefits, Justice delivered two pieces of good news.

The extra $600 a week from the federal government is now available.

“Today, Workforce West Virginia will begin distributing the additional $600 in federal funding (from the CARES Act),” he said. “That’s a big bump and that will be additional money to all of those on unemployment.”

Justice also said that with three call centers now operating Workforce is catching up with applications, processing 28,500 claims in just one day, on Monday.

“We really had to make a move (after record claims were filed and the system was overwhelmed),” he said, and that meant bringing in extra people and relying on the National Guard to help out.

In March, 90,000 claims were filed, as compared to 3,400 in March 2019.

Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com.

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