Almost Heaven: COVID-19 In West Virginia (Pt. 3)

At his March 26 press briefing, Governor Justice announced that 20 people from Morgantown’s Sundale Nursing Home have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus. The nursing home outbreak is by far the largest single cluster in West Virginia, which now has a total of 51 total cases in the state.

Governor Justice began the briefing late, just after meeting with President Trump and other governors about the federal funding bill that will likely be passed this week. Justice assured West Virginians that there will be funding headed to the state.

“There’s going to be an incredible amount of dollars that is going to flow to West Virginia,” Justice said. “There’s going to be many, many opportunities for our small businesses, provided that they continue to employ our workers.”

Earlier this week, Justice announced that state tax filings will be pushed back three months to July 15, matching the federal government’s altered deadlines.

Protective equipment is slowly trickling into the state, but the Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) can’t find the supplies it already had. In an interview on MetroNews TalkLine, Dave Ramsey, president of CAMC, said that much of the hospital’s protective equipment appears to have been stolen in the days leading up to the state’s shutdown.

“The majority [of missing equipment] sort of ‘walked off’ when we still had visitors coming to the hospital,” Ramsay said. It’s hard to know, but we think it was mostly attributable to the visitors, who were worried about their own protection.”

Governor Justice also named Dr. Clay Marsh to the position of “coronavirus czar” at Thursday’s briefing. Marsh is the vice president and executive dean for health sciences at WVU, and has already been a regular fixture at Justice’s daily press briefings.

Dr. Marsh said the rates of positive tests are now stabilizing at 5%, which is good news.

“That is a very good sign that we are doing the right things as a state,” he said. “We don’t know yet if we’ve absolutely flattened the curve, but we’ve bought ourselves more time.”


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