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CHARLESTON — As West Virginia’s governor and his health officials continue to weigh the risks of permitting county fairs and other festivals to take place during the pandemic, along with the reopening of Camden Park, livestock auctions are continuing as an essential service.

At least one such auction in Jackson County has led to at least two people contracting COVID-19, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced Friday. There were 700 people at the auction, he said.

Justice said livestock auctions have always been deemed an essential service.

The governor said he was still considering the possibility of permitting fairs and festivals. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said this week it was up to local officials in that state to have fairs and festivals.

Several fair boards have already made the decision to cancel, including the Putnam County Fair and the Lawrence County Fair. The Cabell County Fair this week said they were proceeding as if they can have the fair, but they still were unsure of the future.

Weigh-in for the Cabell County livestock show is still taking place this weekend. In a Facebook post, fair livestock chairman Charlie Simpson asked participants to keep congregation to a minimum, not to gather around the scales and to bring their own pencils.

When asked about Camden Park, Justice said he hadn’t even considered the state’s only theme park.

Throughout his daily briefing Friday, Justice and his health officials continued to implore West Virginians to wear face masks and maintain a safe physical distance in public.

“We can’t watch you in everything you do,” Justice said. “You have got to be smart. There is nothing worth risking your life for.”

Justice has said previously he could mandate masks be worn in public if he has to. Fifteen states — including Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland — have taken the step to mandate masks be worn.

Dr. Clay Marsh, state coronavirus czar, said masks were a critical part of the solution to living with the virus. He said to think of a mask like a vaccine — the more people who wear them, the more the entire population, or the herd, is protected. He said the science is clear, citing a new study on East Asia.

“Remember, they are not to protect you,” he said of masks. “It is an act of love for other people.”

With masks still just highly recommended, Justice signed an executive order Friday officially permitting spa and massage businesses, limited video lottery, swimming pools, and bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment venues to reopen Saturday.

There were 26 new positive cases of COVID-19 reported Friday, for a total of 1,972. No new deaths were reported for the second day in a row.

In alignment with updated definitions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state now reports probable cases, which are individuals who have symptoms and either serologic (antibody) or epidemiologic (e.g., a link to a confirmed case) evidence of disease, but no confirmatory test.

Cases per county (case confirmed by lab test/probable case) are: Barbour (9/0), Berkeley (293/11), Boone (9/0), Braxton (2/0), Brooke (4/1), Cabell (59/2), Calhoun (2/0), Clay (2/0), Fayette (46/0), Gilmer (10/0), Grant (11/1), Greenbrier (9/0), Hampshire (28/0), Hancock (16/2), Hardy (39/0), Harrison (39/1), Jackson (136/0), Jefferson (172 /5), Kanawha (221 /2), Lewis (8/0), Lincoln (5/0), Logan (17/0), Marion (50/0), Marshall (28/0), Mason (15/0), McDowell (6/0), Mercer (13/0), Mineral (42/2), Mingo (5/1), Monongalia (122/11), Monroe (6/1), Morgan (17/1), Nicholas (8/0), Ohio (41/0), Pendleton (10/2), Pleasants (3/1), Pocahontas (20/1), Preston (20/5), Putnam (35/0), Raleigh (15/1), Randolph (129/0), Ritchie (1/0), Roane (9/0), Summers (1/0), Taylor (8/0), Tucker (4/0), Tyler (3/0), Upshur (6/1), Wayne (98/0), Wetzel (8/0), Wirt (4/0), Wood (50/3) and Wyoming (3/0).

In Ohio, one new case of COVID-19 was reported in Lawrence County by the Lawrence County Health Department. Of the county’s now 30 cases, three are still active; all others are recovered.

Statewide, there were 651 new positive cases reported Friday, for a total of 34,566, and 33 new deaths, for a total of 2,131.

In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order temporarily authorizing Kentucky circuit court clerks to process expired driver’s license renewals and replacement requests remotely.

Beshear also said when the group gathering limit is increased to 50 on June 29, weddings can resume. He said he would evaluate then events larger than that, adding that his priority was reopening school and he didn’t want anything to hinder that.

There were 283 new positive cases of COVID-19 reported, for a total of 9,464, and nine new deaths, for a total of 409.

In the U.S., the CDC reported a total of 1,719,827 cases of COVID-19 as of Friday. There have been 101,711 deaths related to the virus.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.

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