There has been some confusion this week with regard to Pocahontas County’s placement on the state’s color-coded county map. The West Virginia Department of Education’s map, which was last updated on Saturday, September 19, shows Pocahontas designated as green.
However, the map updated by DHHR on Monday, September 21 shows the county as being gold. The discrepancies between the two maps were addressed by W.Va. Governor Jim Justice during his September 21 coronavirus media-briefing.
“Without any question, in my mind, it would be better to just have one map. But, here’s the problem, in being able to give people proper notification and everything else for where they’re going to be for school or athletics or whatever, we feel like from the SSAC and the education community and our health community, and everything, they have made recommendations to me that we go with a date, and that date influences the next week. And that date is Saturday night,” the Governor said.
Justice continued: “Now, in addition to that, what we’ve tried to do in complete transparency is we’ve tried to give you a daily map that is an updated everyday that the DHHR is doing. The maps are different, and there’s no way that we can do the work and make the map the same everyday. Now we can take off the DHHR map and just go with the one map that our panel scrubs and it takes all the input from the DHHR and then scrubs like crazy and comes out with one map a week and boom that comes out on Saturday night. But in an effort of complete transparency, what I think the people want, and I understand the confusion because the maps are going to be different until the panel trues it up on Saturday night. But I think the mapping coming out every day gives you an indication and an indicator. But it is just that, an indicator to the mapping that is coming out through the SSAC and the Department of Education and the DHHR and the National Guard and everyone on the panel and everybody that’s trying to bring that map out to you on Saturday night.”
When asked to confirm if the map released every Saturday by the State Department of Education is the definitive source by which parents and school officials should base their decisions for the upcoming school week, Justice said: “If parents are making decisions as far as school, and as far as sports, the map that comes out Saturday night is the map that they should be dialed in to and look at from the standpoint of making their plans for the following week. That’s correct.”
Governor Justice later went on to comment on Pocahontas County specifically by stating that the spike in cases the county has experienced recently was due to an “isolated group.” Health officials confirmed that the outbreak has been fully contained, and does not pose any further risk to the community. The Governor concluded by saying that he will direct “Dr. Marsh (W.Va. Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh) to go back through the numbers one more time” to confirm all of the current findings and reporting.
On Monday, September 21, Pocahontas County Superintendent of Schools Terrence Beam said ,“We knew we would be green this week. I was in contact with the Health Department again this morning. We had one active case and that’s now dropped off the list. We’re in good shape.”
Due to having a population of less than 16,000 residents, Pocahontas County is not on the same seven-day cycle that larger counties utilize, but rather a 14-day cycle. The West Virginia Department of Education will update their color-coded county map once again on Saturday, September 26, at 5 p.m.