CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch said the state sent a possible coronavirus case to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Wednesday for further testing. One of three cases currently under investigation.
Crouch released the information in a media briefing with Gov. Jim Justice Wednesday afternoon while the state’s top health officials were continuing a closed door meeting in connection with ongoing preparations.
Crouch said there still have been no confirmed cases in the Mountain State and the state remains a low risk but they are reviewing two cases of influenza. One was sent out Wednesday and the other two are under consideration.
“We are sending one test out today, the other is a possibility that we’re looking at and that’s the kind of thing we’ll do just to make sure,” Crouch said. “We don’t want to take any chances. If there’s a suspected case that meets the criteria (from the CDC).”
Crouch said the cases come from people who have either had contact with a known case or traveled to an area experiencing an outbreak. Crouch didn’t tell reporters where the three cases came from in West Virginia.
Gov. Jim Justice, who issued a State of Preparedness proclamation Wednesday, said he’s confident the state is taking the necessary steps in preparation if cases are confirmed.
“We’re trying to do exactly what are jobs are and that is to always never have a surprise, that’s the whole thing,” Justice said. “In my life, you can deal with most anything, you just can’t deal with surprises.”
WVU Vice President Dr. Clay Marsh was part of Wednesday’s meeting. He said during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline” it’s the responsibility of health leaders to reassure residents there is a response plan.
.@claymarsh joins @HoppyKercheval LIVE from the Capitol to discuss the preparation meeting today on the coronavirus. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/EHdGVJbvnG
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) March 4, 2020
“That we create a simple pathway that people can seek that if they are worried about the coronavirus that we give them preventive measures and good public health policy measures, so that we’re speaking with one voice,” Marsh said.
Marsh said the “real good news” is that there are no cases in West Virginia and most people who get it suffer a “very mild viral illness.”
Testing should be limited, Marsh said.
“Let’s not test people that don’t need to be tested and let’s reserve that for people that are sick because ultimately just testing people may create more anxiety among the populace,” Marsh said.
Gov. Justice urged state residents to be smart and live their lives like they normally do.
“We’ve got all the horsepower that’s on top of this to the very best of all of our abilities. We don’t know if a meteorite is going to to hit us tomorrow,” Justice said. “Let’s be smart about what we do and then let’s go about living our lives.”
The state has established an information portal at coronavirus.wv.gov.
The governor’s office released some statements Wednesday from those who were part of Wednesday’s discussion.
State Adjutant General Jim Hoyer:
“The West Virginia National Guard is prepared to assist our partner agencies across the state in all aspects of response through our highly trained personnel and units who specialize in medical isolation and decontamination and who can help expedite supply deliveries to medical facilities and communities throughout the state. The Guard stands ready to help keep our fellow West Virginians safe during this and any future public health threat.”
State School Superintendent Clayton Burch:
“The West Virginia Department of Education is working closely with the Governor’s office and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to ensure the school community is preparing for a potential Covid-19 outbreak. To date, the WVDE is in ongoing contact with all 55 counties and the School for the Deaf and the Blind. Districts are encouraged to review their plans for infectious disease outbreaks and their emergency communication plans. Additionally, administrators are reminded to be diligent in cleaning surfaces throughout their facilities and to remind families to keep sick children home.”
State HEPC interim chancellor and state CTC Chancellor Sarah Tucker:
“I would like to thank Governor Justice for convening today’s informative meeting. I am following up with presidents at West Virginia’s public and private two- and four-year higher education institutions to share available resources and guidance for our campus communities. As always, the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is paramount.”