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Justice, task force announce tweaks in color-coded COVID map

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice announced a pair of tweaks Monday to the colored-coded map that will help determine if schools can offer in-person instruction and take part in extra curricular activities.

Gov. Jim Justice

Justice said at his Monday media briefing the changes came after further discussion about the map’s metrics over the weekend.

The first tweak comes in the area of how workers in congregate settings who contract COVID-19 will be counted. Justice said the positive cases for workers at jails, prisons and nursing homes will be counted as one full case.

“Although they are at one nursing home and they got this at one nursing home, yet they still go out into one community and we can’t put our arms around them at that nursing home,” Justice said.

The metrics originally were counting staff members as just a half case. The map will continue to count positive cases among residents in a congregate setting like nursing homes and jails as one case per facility.

Ben Salango

Justice said the second tweak will sync up the state’s map to the Harvard model when it comes to cases per 100,000 population with the exception of the green category going from 0-7 to 0-3 cases.

The map now reads green 0-3 cases, yellow 3-9 cases, orange 10-24 cases and red 25 and above. All based on cases per 100,000 in population.

The changes put Boone, Mingo, Lincoln and Taylor counties into the orange category Monday just a few cases away from further restrictions being placed on school activities. Logan County remains the only county in the red.

The numbers are determined on positive COVID-19 cases in a county during a seven-day period that resets each day.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee criticized the metrics Monday before Justice announced the changes.

“He’s treating our people like statistics on a spread sheet. Not like the loved ones, neighbors, family members like they truly are,” Salango said.

Salango repeated Justice doesn’t want to report the accurate numbers.

Ayne Amjad

“That’s what the governor has been doing from the beginning and now he’s using it in the color-coded system in regard to school reopening,” Salango said.

State Medical Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad said the changes came after hearing from residents during the last few days.

“We do listen to the feedback and over the weekend we did hear a lot of chatter. As Gov. Justice stated, we do want everything safe and we do listen,” Amjad said.

State Coronvirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh agreed.

Clay Marsh

“What we’ve done over the weekend is continue to think about this, to talk to other people, this is really a public health-driven set of metrics,” Marsh said. “Really no one has ever done this before.”

Justice said the decision to change the map is another step toward keeping unity in the state’s coronavirus response.

“We want to stay together as West Virginians. At the end of the day, you may not think that that has been as important as it has but that driven this state to become the miracle and the envy of the nation because the state, not Jim Justice, the state has stayed together and moved in a positive way,” Justice said.

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