CHARLESTON, W.Va. – “West Virginians you gotta tighten up by wearing masks and doing better,” West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said during his virtual COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.
Justice urged residents in “red”(Mingo & Wyoming) and “orange”(Berkeley, Braxton, Monroe, Morgan and Wayne) counties to go get tested.
Gov. Justice addressed a situation 12 News first investigated last week about recovered cases not being entered into the state system in a timely manner, leaving the DHHR’s dashboard showing many more active cases than there really are.
Justice highlighted 496 cases in Kanawha County that were suddenly processed after paperwork was finally put through, he said. “I would say to any county, if we’re having trouble processing the paperwork, we’re pleading with you if you need additional assistance, the National Guard is standing ready, absolutely whatever you need to be able to process paperwork timely and make things happen in a more efficient manner, just let us help you. We’re wanting to help, we’re standing ready to help at anytime,” Justice said appealing to local county health departments.
“There are people that are impacted in every way. The processing of paperwork could cause an issue that would cause a bunch of kids not to be able to participate, a bunch of kids that we need badly to be in school,” Justice described the impact of the reporting issue.
“The job’s tough, I get it, people are working their bloomin’ tails off,” the governor said, acknowledging the workload local health departments are under.
“We’ve begun looking at those again,” DHHR Sec. Bill Crouch said, referencing the uncleared recovered cases. We know that the local health departments are really pushed right now in terms of workload when they have outbreaks. There focus has been, and should be, on making sure that those outbreaks are investigated and that individuals are quarantined and additional testing is done, but we have to get those numbers right,” Crouch said. Crouch again mentioned that the DHHR is looking at trying to automate the process for the local health departments, which could cause numbers to change in coming weeks as the change is made, he said.
There are 22 active outbreaks in state schools, totaling 82 cases, which is a negligible percentage of students and staff in the state, Justice said. The governor thanked everyone who is working in the schools to keep students and staff safe.
Justice mentioned that he would be asking the WVSSAC and state health experts to look for a way to allow Boone County’s soccer team to participate in the state tournament, despite the county being listed as “gold” on the state’s map.
The governor asked all West Virginians to reach out by phone or email to senior citizens in the state, this week to make sure that they know they are not forgotten.