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DHHR reports 2nd case of coronavirus in Mon County

MORGANTOWN — While lawmakers in Washington continued to debate the money merits of a nationwide pandemic recovery package March 22, coronavirus cases across West Virginia were steadily mounting.

A second person has tested positive for the virus in Monongalia County, the state Department of Health and Human Services announced.

That brings the confirmed number of cases across West Virginia to 16, the DHHR said.

Two new cases were also recorded in Kanawha County, along with a new diagnosis in Jefferson County, where the state’s first case was chronicled last week.

The DHHR didn’t immediately disclose the severity of the virus in the new cases, or whether they were travel-related, as with the earlier diagnoses.

As cases continue to multiply here, so too does the frustration of Joe Manchin, the Mountain State’s senior senator on Capitol Hill.

Speaking with reporters in a conference call Sunday, Manchin, D-W.Va., said the state is already in the shadow of a not-so-good prognosis concerning COVID-19.

West Virginia has an aging population already beset with a multitude of chronic issues, including heart disease, diabetes and hypertension — which are among the medical issues that have already proven deadly in conjunction with the virus.

Manchin said he appreciates that awareness and a respect of the coronavirus are now present here.

And West Virginians — a total of 460, as of 7 p.m. Sunday — have been tested.

Those tests have resulted in the 16 positive cases, while netting the 444 negative ones.

The results of four tests were pending, the DHHR said.

But tests, and the medical professionals and lab facilities that go with them, are already part of an American infrastructure that is quickly becoming overwhelmed in the midst of the pandemic, Manchin told reporters.

There aren’t enough of those aforemention professionals to go around.

And delays in testing are critical delays.

Especially, the senator said, in West Virginia.

“The people who are working in those labs are giving it everything they’ve got,” he said.

“They just need more personnel. The personnel that you have now are maxed out. They’re working 60, 70, 80 hours a week, trying to keep up.”

Manchin has an antidote, he said — and it comes in the form the medical schools at WVU, Marshall, and every other institution in the state that trains physicians and other medical professionals.

The senator suggests enlisting students who are about to earn diplomas or certificates of completion, into the service of those suffering.

Labs and hospitals, he said, could bring the young professionals in, with proper supervision, and put them to work.

A prescription for … Wall Street?

Manchin, meanwhile, said he’ll continue to vote against the trillion-dollar stimulus package being worked out for coronavirus relief, if Republican lawmakers continue writing the prescription.

Republicans and Democrats, as said, were continuing to debate the package Sunday night, after an impasse earlier in the day.

The senator from West Virginia told reporters Sunday that the package in its current format was more worried about America’s wealthy — than everyone else.

“At the end of the day, the only people who seem to survive, and survive well, are the big, hotshots on Wall Street,” Manchin said.

“They’re gonna do well, no matter what we do. If the treatment of this virus is not put first, if the protection of health-care workers and the people who have lost their jobs are not put first — I will not vote for it.”

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