Outbreaks still linked to travel


CHARLESTON — Governor Jim Justice continued his daily press briefings via YouTube Wednesday afternoon, providing ongoing updates on the state’s response efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Please take care of yourself. Protect yourself. If you wear a mask and you protect yourself, you are making such a contribution, it’s unbelievable. But, absolutely, be great, loving neighbors that you are in West Virginia, and take care of one another,” Justice pleaded on Wednesday.

Justice requested for residents in the state to take the virus seriously and wear masks. “As great as you’ve been, and as phenomenal as West Virginians are in this state, we still have real risk,” Justice asserted. “We can’t drop our guard. We’ve got to stay on top of this.” He explained that even with quick response to the Princeton Nursing Home outbreak he first reported Monday afternoon, two people associated with the nursing home have passed. The facility reported 42 positive cases on Wednesday. He shared a conversation he had with a man in South Carolina. The man’s wife is a nurse at a hospital who explained how fast the virus can spread. “On x-rays where the lungs were, for all practical purposes clear, in one day, the lungs are just covered with this. That’s how fast it can move.” 

Justice also cautioned that a lot of the new cases are linked to migration from the southern part of the country. “We’re traveling, we’re going out of state, we’re coming back and there’s exposure all over the place… This thing really moves, and it moves very quickly. Don’t end up being a casualty, West Virginia, please,” Justice said.

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Bill Crouch further elaborated on contract tracing. He explained that the outbreak in Princeton Nursing Home has been traced back to Myrtle Beach. Crouch shared that there are currently outbreaks in psychiatric hospitals, correctional facilities, day cares, child residential facilities, universities, schools, churches, group homes and even golf clubs, weddings and funerals. 

Justice gave an update on the City of Gary water shortage situation. As of Wednesday morning, Gary’s water system was fixed and water had been restored, but the town is still under a boil water advisory for seven days. The governor announced places where residents can find safe drinking water and thanked the National Guard for their response.

During his announcements, the governor updated the state on the number of active cases in Kanawha County, which is currently the state’s highest with 254. Monongalia County now reportedly has 177 active cases. He also reported 94 residents in the state are hospitalized from the virus and there are still currently eight counties with church-related outbreaks: Mason, Boone, Grant, Logan, Kanawha and Taylor. 

The governor reminded small business owners about applying for the CARES Act Small Business Funding, as money started to be distributed yesterday. He reminded the residents of Gilmer, Marion and Hampshire counties about the free COVID-19 mobile testing lanes available for the next week. Justice also reported that, because of the testing lanes, 271,811 West Virginians have been tested for the virus. He mentioned once again the 696 sites on the Summer Feeding Program map, and also asked everyone to take part in the 2020 United States Census. Justice reminded cities and counties to apply and reapply for the CARES Act grant funding, as almost $60 million have been disbursed.

Justice updated on the state’s current statistics, as of Wednesday at 10 a.m.: The WV Cumulative Percent of Tests Positive was at 2.31 percent. The Daily Percentage of Positive Cases rose to 3.95 percent. The state’s 4,511 recovered cases far exceed the number of active cases, which currently stands at 1,647. West Virginia has now tested almost 15.3 percent of the state’s population, falling behind the nation’s average of over 15.8 percent. The state’s Fatality Rate currently stands at under 1.8 percent. All of these statistics and more can be found on the dashboard at coronavirus.wv.gov. 

WV’s COVID Czar Dr. Clay Marsh shared that the Rt value in the state is declining again. He reported on a recent “concerning” study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on those who survive COVID. They studied 100 people in Germany diagnosed with the coronavirus, two thirds of whom did not need to be hospitalized. They used magnetic resonance imaging to look at heart function. “On an average of 71 days after people had been first diagnosed with COVID, about 78 percent of people still had evidence of heart involvement and about 63 percent had evidence of active inflammation,” he explained. After biopsies, the study showed findings of inflammatory cells, further proof of long-term effects of the virus. The average age of study participants was 47 years old and 53 percent were males.

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