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Marsh: State residents should ‘double-down’ on commitment to battle COVID-19

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh says he considers this a ‘time of warning’ for the state with COVID-19 cases growing without a significant increase in hospitalizations or deaths.

Clay Marsh

Marsh said during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline” it would be appropriate for a recommitment to battle the virus.

“People are doing a great job so far but it’s time right now for us to double-down on doing the things that start to slow the spread of this virus and bring that Rt value under 1,” Marsh said.

The Rt number, previously called R-naught, describes how many people a single person can pass the virus to. West Virginia’s number was at more than 1 Tuesday.

Marsh compared the current situation, a positive case growth of 43 percent since June 1, to being in a busy traffic intersection.

“If you’re going to through a stop light we’re at a yellow light right now,” Marsh said. “We are still pushing forward (with Gov. Jim Justice’s reopening plan) and I think we should but we know that a lot of these numbers are telling us that we have a potential of going from a little smoldering ember in the forest we live in to having that forest catch on fire.”

The state’s overall positive test rate was at 1.69 percent Tuesday. It’s daily positive test rate at 2.51 percent. Marsh said those numbers remain where you want them to be.

“You can do effective contact tracing when your percent positives are under three percent and our’s has been consistently under three percent which is really good. It means to me we can continue to move forward as we’ve been doing,” he said.

Marsh said there’s not been dramatic increase in hospitalizations. A total of 27 people were in the hospital with COVID-19 Tuesday in West Virginia.

The doubling down Marsh refers to includes wearing masks in public places, staying out of large gatherings, staying home when you can and following the much-talked-about guidelines like washing your hands, keeping your hands away from your mouth, etc. He said state residents must be proactive to hold down any significant outbreak of the virus.

“Maybe not such a dramatic way that’s happening in Florida and Texas but we certainly are at risk for that same sort of next step if we don’t intervene,” he said.

Marsh is working with the state DHHR in in its attempts to “fine tune” the reporting of COVID-19 information from county health departments. A delay in removing active cases to recovered cases caused Gov. Justice to ask for the resignation of former state Health Officer Dr. Cathy Slemp. Marsh said they are trying to create fully automated reporting systems.

“We need to change the system so that those systems reflect real-time, accurate, up-to-date information that is the same across all of our measuring processes,” he said. “We’re trying to create those automated systems and reinforce those so there is not the need to talk directly to local health departments, to be able to get that data before all of the electronic information is finalized.”

Marsh said accurate testing data is important for three reasons:

–to provide direction of the status of COVID-19 in West Virginia so decisions can be made by the governor on what to do about it

–to provide accurate information as part of national reporting data

–to maintain the public trust





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