Justice, task force talk positive tests, field hospitals at Friday briefing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice said Friday discussions are underway to re-implement restrictions in West Virginia if the state’s cumulative positive test rate for the coraonvirus gets to three percent.

Gov. Jim Justice

Justice started the state’s reopening plan several months ago when the rate dipped below three percent but it’s been climbing back toward that mark for the last few weeks.

“We will absolutely have to look very, very seriously about starting to take more aggressive actions,” Justice said during his Friday media briefing at the state capitol. “I hope and pray that we don’t get there but we’re prepared to take significantly more aggressive actions if we do get there.”

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The cumulative rate was 2.72% Friday, It was at 2.34% less than a month ago. The state’s daily positive test rate was 4.85% Friday.

Justice said he’s hopeful additional testing will help the state chase down those who are asymptomatic, stopping them from spreading the virus.

“I’m hopeful that we’re going to be able to get a lot of more testing that’s going on, a lot more information, giving us an ability to attack and go at the roots of these problems,” Justice said.

Field Hospital

Bill Crouch

State DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch said Friday that he planned on talking with officials at Charleston Area Medical Center Friday afternoon about CAMC’s request for two field hospitals to be established in Charleston to separate non-COVID-19 patients.

Crouch said CAMC may want a screening area instead of a large facility for a field hospital.

“We really believe a this point that a field hospital is not necessary,” Crouch said. “There have been discussions with regard to CAMC having a tent put up to take care of flow and triage prior to patients entering the hospital.”

CAMC has had its highest number of COVID-19 patients in recent days, averaging between 60-70 patients. Crouch says CAMC staff members have also suffered.

“We do have outbreaks in hospitals and we have outbreaks at CAMC right now,” Crouch said. “Those staff are immediately sent home.”

Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, W.Va. adjutant general

Gov. Justice agreed there doesn’t appear to be a need now for a field hospital but said he would follow the advice of his medical experts if the need arises.

“I just don’t think that today there is probably that need or that we can accomplish that idea today,” Justice said.

State Adjutant General Jim Hoyer said a 250-bed field hospital would need 40,000 square feet while a 50-bed hospital would need 50,000 square feet.

“You’d probably have to look at some place like the (Charleston) Civic Center,” Hoyer said.

The state currently has St. Francis Hospital in downtown Charleston prepared for overflow COVID-19 patients. It’s currently housing about a half dozen patients and could take on more than three dozen, officials said.

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