West Virginia Governor Jim Justice stayed firmly on-message during his Wednesday, September 23 coronavirus media-briefing, as he once again stressed the importance of increased testing across the state.
On Monday, September 21, W.Va. National Guard Major General James Hoyer reiterated the urgency for the state to maintain administration of 7,500 COVID-19 tests per-day, a figure which West Virginia has not been close to achieving since Tuesday, September 8. And at 4,626 tests per-day, the state’s seven-day average is almost 3,000 tests below that goal. This is a concern which the Governor has been struggling to mitigate. As Justice put it, a larger percentage of county-residents must be tested for the coronavirus in order “to get yourself out of the red, out of the orange and yellow and get yourself into the green.”
Currently there are two major challenges preventing the state from reaching its testing goal. The first has to do with manpower, and financial resources. Local health departments simply don’t have enough of either.
“We’re going to change that and amp that up significantly, and we already have things set in motion to do just that,” Justice said. “With that being said, I want to tell our local county health departments just this: you’re doing fabulous work. We appreciate you beyond belief. We’re going to run to your rescue to make life somewhat easier for you. We’re going to do that with the resources that we have, and the deployment of the National Guard.”
The second substantial challenge with increasing the number of tests administered is the lack of desire among residents to be tested. This is another issue that Justice has chosen to attack head-on. To demonstrate how quick, easy and painless the COVID-19 test is, Gov. Justice submitted himself for testing live at the conclusion of the briefing.
Also speaking at Wednesday’s briefing was W.Va. Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh.
“8.9% of people are what we call super-spreaders, and these super-spreaders are responsible for about 80% of all infections,” Dr. Marsh said. “The period of time when a spreader is most infectious are the two days prior to showing symptoms, and the day that symptoms appear.”
Dr. Marsh concluded his statement by reaffirming the Governor’s message, “West Virginia, show up and get tested at the places we have set up for you for free.”
“We’ve been tweaking it and perfecting it and trying to make it more right. And we feel good that we’re really, really close to having it now,” Justice said. “I told Dr. Marsh just this: when we made the decision of looking at infection and positivity, and giving people the best of the two, looking at it that way and not just looking at infections, people were really hesitant to test because the more they tested the worse it got. Then coming up with the positivity arm, and saying wait a minute here, we need to test because the more we test, the more we know. So we came up with a way that you could have either-or. Whichever is better for your county. So now we’ve got a real movement going on with people getting tested. This may be our greatest moment right now, on just being able to test more.”