Justice urges more covid testing in West Virginia

Gov. Jim Justice says West Virginia needs to ramp up its coronavirus testing by thousands a day.

“Please go get tested,” Justice implored today.

West Virginia has been averaging about 3,500 tests a day recently, the governor said.

He would like to get to at least 7,000 tests a day.

Optimal, he said, would be at least 10,000 tests a day.

Greater numbers would have several benefits, said the governor and his advisors.

One would be increased likelihood of catching asymptomatic cases that could result in isolation. That, in turn, would help suppress the spread of virus.

Another would be more information about where the virus is spreading and how public health officials could respond.

“We’ve got to know where the problems are,” Justice said. “You’ll never, every get out of any hole unless you know how deep in the hole you are.”

And third, the governor said increased verification of people without coronavirus could drive down numbers in counties that currently are unable to have school in classrooms or sports on athletic fields. A lower percentage could open the counties to those activities, the governor said.

“Additional testing significantly will help your numbers,” Justice said.

“I encourage all kids as well as adults to go get tested. It is a nothin’ test. Absolutely nothin'”

Justice acknowledged that additional testing will require additional resources and staff.

But, he said, “We’re going to find a way. We’re just going to find a way to continue that testing.”

West Virginia was showing a 2.03 percent daily positivity rate on Monday.

The state is reporting 3,544 active cases. There were 312 deaths reported by Monday morning.

Four counties were classified as red on a Saturday map to depict the safety of classroom learning and sports events. Those were Kanawha, Fayette, Putnam and Mingo counties. The designation means those counties have remote learning and no sports events.

Two more counties were orange, which also means they have no classroom instruction or extracurricular activities.

The map is based on daily positive cases, adjusted for 100,000 population. For small counties under 16,000 residents it’s a 14-day rolling average. For counties larger than that, it’s a 7-day rolling average.

Last week, the governor announced a second way for counties to be assessed — by percent positive.

A panel of health experts examines the data before the Saturday map is unveiled, pulling out duplicates, making sure cases are reflected in the proper county and ensuring that nursing home residents or jail inmates are counted as one unit of congregate settings.

Some members of the public have asked to see the specific calculations that result in the map designations and lead to significant societal implications like having school in person or not.

Asked about that today, Justice said he would like to show the work but that it’s complicated.

“The amount of input and the amount of work that goes into making these decisions and deciding on the is astronomical,” Justice said.

But, the governor said, “If we can make things better, let’s make them better.”

Dr. Clay Marsh

Coronavirus response coordinator Clay Marsh described the lengthy verification process for the information that eventually forms the map.

“We’re not just making things up based on what we think should happen. We’re really looking at the accuracy of the application of the data.”

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