WV Gov. Justice defends changes to state’s color-coded COVID-19 map


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Governor Jim Justice held his latest virtual COVID-19 briefing Friday morning.

Fayette, Mingo and Putnam counties have joined Kanawha county in the “red” category on the state’s color-coded map, Justice announced.

If the state’s cumulative percent positive rate raises above 3%(it’s currently at 2.72%), Justice will have to look at putting more aggressive restrictions in place, he said.

The keys to improving colors in individual counties are: following COVID-19 guidelines, like wearing masks and social distancing; and doing more testing, the governor said.

The CDC is adopting a color-coded system that looks “tremendously close” to West Virginia’s, Justice said. The state’s version “is more strenuent(sic) and is much safer, Gov. Justice said.

When asked about criticism of the changes Justice and state officials have made to the Harvard Global Health Institute map, West Virginia coronavirus “czar” Dr. Clay Marsh said: “We certainly had no intention of taking their model in a reckless or any other way. We use it as a baseline, because of the respect we have for their knowledge, but we really have now reached the West Virginia Model. We’ve borrowed pieces now from many different public health models and we’ve combined those in way that we feel is going to be good for West Virginia.”

During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice voiced his displeasure with the Bible Center School, in Charleston, decision to ignore Kanawha County’s “red” status and hold in-person schools. On Friday, Justice said he believes a deal will soon be reached with the school where it will test all staff and students. The deal could be a model for other schools, the governor said.

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