CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Coroanvirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh began his comments at Friday’s coronavirus media briefing by saying he was going to be “very direct.”
Marsh said West Virginians have done a lot of good things during the pandemic but he said “it’s time for us to do better work.”
The past week has brought about the most significant spread of the virus in West Virginia since the pandemic began. There have been 6,806 confirmed cases and 59 deaths this week. Marsh said the state is now averaging 530 new cases a day and there were more than 12,000 active cases as of Friday.
“COVID-19 is spreading significantly in West Virginia and we’re starting to see the impact of that both on the color of our public alert map and also on the number people who are dying and the number of people who are getting sick,” Marsh said.
There were six counties in the “red” category on Friday’s map, indicating the highest rate of spread. There are 14 other counties at one step down in the “orange” category. Forty-two of the state’s 55 counties have at least one “red” metric.
“This a public health map,” Marsh said. “It’s not a school map or a sports map. It’s a public health map.”
Kanawha-Charleston Health Department Director Dr. Sherri Young called for a change in behavior during an appearance Friday on MetroNews “Talkline.”
“We really need to look at how we’re going to progress going forward,” she said. “If we continue on this behavior and we’re still having these big gatherings these numbers are not going to go down.”
There have been 91,000 tests administered in West Virginia in the past week, a good thing, Marsh said, but he said it takes more than that to control COVID-19.
“We can see that that is not working sufficiently for us to be able to stop the spread of COVID-19, in fact, the spread of COVID-19 is increasing,” Marsh said
He said it’s still the same things that he and others have repeated over and over again that will get the numbers down including properly wearing masks, over your nose and mouth and especially when indoors, social distancing and washing your hands.
“If masks are off risk goes up,” Marsh said.
Up to this point, West Virginia’s hospital system has been able to handle outbreaks among staff members. Marsh said he’s concerned that could turn into be a problem if the numbers don’t start heading in a different direction.
“I have a lot of faith in each West Virginia person but it is time to step up and we’re not doing a good enough job at this point,” Marsh said.
Nursing home increased testing pays off
Gov. Jim Justice and state Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad announced Friday that new mandatory twice-a-week testing of staff at nursing homes paid off this week in the discoveries of 11 asymptomatic cases.
“Those were good findings because we were hopefully catch future COVID-19 cases that could cause more infections in those facilities,” Amjad said.
Gov. Justice said Friday that he’s currently planning only two briefings next week, Monday and Wednesday, because of the Thanksgiving holiday.