Justice worries about virus spread through neighboring Ohio, Kentucky

Gov. Jim Justice said his top concern right now is the spread of coronavirus from surrounding states.

“That’s probably what I am most concerned about now is how this thing is moving,” Justice said Wednesday during a regular briefing about West Virginia’s covid response.

Justice said he is most worried about counties in West Virginia’s southern and western regions because of proximity to Kentucky and Ohio.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, warned this week about early signs of coronavirus outbreak in Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky. He cited the percentage of positive tests in those states.

White House health advisor Dr. Deborah Birx warned that aggressive prevention steps need to be taken in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.

“We can see what is happening in the South moving North,” Birx said during a stop in Kentucky.

West Virginia officials are closely watching those situations in neighboring states, Justice said, while also monitoring this state’s numbers.

“Every day we’re seeing more and more and more positive,” Justice said. “Don’t end up being a casualty West Virginia, please.”

West Virginia, through early Wednesday, was reporting 1,647 active cases and 4,511 cases considered recovered.

The state’s most recent percent positive was 3.95 percent.

“That’s terrible. Not terrible from a national scene, but terrible from what we want to see,” Justice said.

West Virginia’s rate of virus spread, expressed as the Rt, was 1.01 on Wednesday. A few weeks ago, West Virginia was worst in the nation on that number, with 1.37.

If it’s above 1.0, COVID-19 will spread quickly. If it’s below 1.0, infections will slow.

Justice started Wednesday’s briefing as he often does, by discussing West Virginia’s most recent covid deaths.

This time, the number was five since Monday.

There have been 111 since the pandemic began.

“It’s just not good,” he said. “That’s just all there is to it.”

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