West Virginia gov rejects model showing reopening could begin May 4, but says 'engine has got to start'

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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice told "Your World" Monday that he saw "no way" the state could begin easing restrictions on its economy the week of May 4, which had been projected by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

"There's no possibility that that's going to happen," Justice, a Republican, told host Neil Cavuto. "We are going to be back to work when our health officials and the people that are the real experts are telling me and convincing me that it is safe to go back to work. But we have got to be formulating a real-life plan to back to work."

The influential model projected that West Virginia, Montana, Vermont and Hawaii could begin relaxing social distancing restrictions the week of May 4, provided the states had implemented "containment strategies that include testing, contact tracing, isolation, and limiting gathering size."

THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK, STATE-BY-STATE

As of Monday evening, West Virginia had confirmed 908 coronavirus cases and 26 deaths.

"We have punched a lot of the right buttons," Justice said, noting that the state had begun implementing restrictive measures before its first case was confirmed in mid-March. "I'm not patting myself on the back, because I'm surrounded by the greatest experts on the planet. West Virginia has got some really smart people and sharp people."

"And from that, we have kept our numbers really, really low in an area where we are within a rock's throw of two-thirds of the population of this country," Justice added. "And we are also the most elderly and the most vulnerable people because of all the chronic illnesses and all the stuff that we have. We are really concerned."

The governor also praised President Trump and his task force's work to combat the pandemic, saying the state was "trying to follow the president's lead [and] ... the engine has got to start back.

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"If this engine doesn't start back, in all honesty, we could awaken to a situation far worse than a recession. We could actually drift into something that would mimic a depression," he warned.

"We've got to learn to live with this disease until they end up with a drug or a vaccine that can bridge us to where we are completely safe. The engine has to start back."