CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) today announced a plan to increase COVID-19 testing opportunities for minorities and other vulnerable populations in medically-underserved counties.
The plan was developed by the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs, DHHR and WV National Guard (WVNG) and targets residents who have struggled to be seen by a physician or do not have insurance to pay for testing. This optional testing will be free and available to all residents in selected counties, including asymptomatic individuals.
Testing will be prioritized for counties with higher cases of positive COVID-19 transmission. The following counties have been identified for testing: Berkeley, Cabell, Fayette, Jefferson, Kanawha, Marion, Mercer, Mineral, Monongalia and Raleigh.
DHHR and local jurisdictions with support from the WVNG will be conducting the testing in Berkeley, Jefferson, Mercer and Raleigh counties on May 15 and 16, 2020, from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Additional testing for Cabell, Kanawha, Marion, and Monongalia counties will be held on May 22 and 23, 2020, from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Fayette, Kanawha and Mineral counties on May 29 and 30, 2020, from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. with locations to be determined and announced at a later date.
Identification, such as a driver’s license or proof of address, will be required to be tested. Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
The existing testing sites will be utilized to include use of the WVNG mobile testing units to reach remote areas. Additional areas that require testing and additional dates for testing will be assessed and announced later.
“This effort aligns with Governor Justice’s strategy to increase testing among vulnerable populations to more effectively slow the spread of this disease,” said Dr. Cathy Slemp, State Health Officer and Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. “Gov. Justice directed the DHHR to develop an advisory group to assist in community outreach and education related to COVID-19 in African Americans, Latinos and other minorities in the state of West Virginia. We’re getting the word out about how important testing is in these communities and now we’re ready to put our plan into action to help save lives.”