CHARLESTON, W.Va. – After reading off the latest of the state’s 337 coronavirus deaths and emphasizing how the virus is hitting the elderly population, at the beginning of Monday’s virtual COVID-19 briefing, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said “It seems like and just feels like this thing is starting to move our way.”
The governor pointed to the state’s Rt rate, which is now at .98, but had been well above 1.00, he said. The rate is now the 15th best in the country, after being the worst several in the past several weeks.
Gov. Justice said that the state is going to “blanket” orange and red counties with testing. The West Virginia National Guard and the WV DHHR are going to help with the additional free testing, Justice said. We need to test people other than those who are sick, the governor said. Officials will begin by focusing on Kanawha County, with four testing events set for this week. Justice wants “everybody” to get tested to help get students back to in-person learning. A similar effort will be made in Barbour County, which turned “orange” on Monday, Justice said.
Free testing will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., on Tuesday, September 29 at the Barbour County Fairgrounds.
The governor used the Bible Center School, in Charleston, as an example. Several weeks ago, Justice made his disappointment known when the school held in-person learning against his order. The school then reached an agreement with the state to test all students and staff. The school’s initial test showed 219 negative, with one positive case that is being re-tested, Justice said.
“We’ve got a decision to make: whether we should test a lot or not test a lot,” Justice said. Testing a lot will help identify asymptomatic COVID-19 spreaders, Justice explained. “That’s the way we win the battle. I’m not going to apologize for that in any way,” the governor continued.
On the topic of whether data is being manipulated for the state’s maps, Justice said: “there’s no way on god’s earth that somebody’s going to manipulate numbers, not on my watch, not if I can catch it.”