Healthcare, Latest News, State Government

Mon bar opening decision expected Thursday; new video demonstrates how masks work

Recent improvements could be from mask mandate says Justice

MORGANTOWN – Monongalia County bars can expect word today on whether they’ll be permitted to reopen on Friday.

Gov. Jim Justice said on Wednesday he’ll announce his decision on ending or continuing the 10-day order today.

“We are meeting with people and listening and monitoring and doing everything we can do,” he said.

Justice hasn’t been holding COVID-19 press briefings on Thursdays so the announcement will likely come in another form.

As of Wednesday morning, Mon’s active cases had dropped from a previous high of 394 to 339.

Statewide numbers are also improving. Daily positive cases continued their downward trend from 170 last Friday to 30 on Tuesday. The Rt value — the measure of how the disease spreads from one person to the next — was 1.09, down from 1.37 on July 10. On that date, West Virginia’s Rt was the nation’s highest, now we rank 19th.

An Rt value below 1 is considered good.

Justice wondered aloud whether the mask mandate — which requires face coverings to be worn inside public buildings — might be the reason for the state’s improving numbers.

Though it may be too soon to say for sure, he said, “we can say that something is making this move and move in our favor. And wearing the mask is absolutely making it move.” 

But he doesn’t want to create false hope.

“One robin doesn’t make spring and this is one robin right now,” he said.

 They’ll continue to watch the numbers for a few more days to see effects of the mask order.

Dummy demo 

COVID-19 Czar Clay Marsh presented a video co-produced by WVU, NIOSH and the National Guard that used mannequins to demonstrate how infected droplets fly from person to person and how masks stop them.

 A blue dye was ejected from the mouth of the figures, in a projection like a cough.

Afterward, it was possible to see exactly where the droplets landed.

Tested stages included coughing unprotected, to coughing into the hand, then the elbow, then coughing while wearing a mask.

Only the mask blocked the dye from spreading.

 Marsh praised West Virginians for their ongoing cooperation, which is turning the tide back in the right direction.

“We are so appreciative and so thankful from a health perspective,” he said, “that you are continuing to demonstrate the service and the altruism and the community that it really takes to see us be leaders in this country though this pandemic.” 

Concerning colleges (and other higher ed institutions) 

Justice said 27 public and private colleges participated in a call with him on Tuesday regarding reopening.

He assured the press Wednesday that everyone’s concern is protecting students, staff, faculty and the host communities.

“Their plans are spectacular,” Justice said.

Regarding the timing, he said, “The decision time is upon us,” but he wants to wait as long as possible to watch the numbers before making any calls.

Church outbreaks 

The church outbreaks are now in eight counties, Justice said: Mason, Boone, Grant, Logan, Kanawha, Raleigh, Taylor and Wood. Positive cases currently total 85.

Testing methods 

Addressing concerns that some methods of testing may be less accurate than others — the shorter, less invasive swab vs. the longer swab that reaches much further into the nasal caity — Marsh and Bureau for Public Health Commissioner Ayne Amjad said the two are equally valid.

They explained that early testing used the deep swab technique, but many found it too uncomfortable. People prefer the anterior swab — done toward the front of the nose. There is also a mid-swab that goes a bit deeper but not as far back as the deep swab. All are equally capable of collecting sufficient infected specimen to give a correct result, Amjad said.

And all three are FDA and CDC approved, Marsh noted.

Show VFDs the money 

On financial matters, Justice said they’ve found a way to use nearly $4.2 million

of federal grant money to send $10,000 to each of the state’s 419 volunteer fire departments.

“We all know the beauty of what they give to us,” he said. “We’ll just keep on doing goodness just as much as we possibly can.” 

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