Education, Healthcare, Latest News, State Government, West Virginia Legislature

Mon turns yellow on COVID map; school outbreak dashboard posted; Justice responds to letter from Delegate Danielle Walker

MORGANTOWN — Monongalia County got good news on Friday. It turned yellow on the state County Alert Map, updated daily on the Department of Health and Human Resources COVID-19 dashboard.

“I want to super congratulate Mon County,” Gov. Jim Justice said. Mon remains orangeon the School Alert System map but health officials will be working into Saturday for Saturday’s map update that will dictate school activities for next week. Going yellow on the school map would mean Mon schools could open their doors for the first time since Sept. 8.

COVID-19 Czar Clay Marsh spent some time Friday re-explaining how the data for the two maps is calculated and how they work together. For the school map, he said, data collection stops Thursday night.

On Friday, he said, DHHR and epidemiologists check the data with local health departments to separate congregate cases from community cases, take out duplicates and do other accuracy adjustments. Then on Saturday the pubic health panel meets to correctly apply tgedata and make a recommendation to the governor for Saturday’s map update.

The map applies for the whole week, Marsh said, except when a county turns red during the week.

Marsh said they are seeing benefits from now using two metrics – the best of either the infection rate or positivity rate – to determine map colors. Testing is picking up and infection rates are going down.

Officials have said before that the daily goal is 7,000 tests and Friday’s DHHR COVID dashboard shows testing almost doubled from Wednesday to Thursday – from 3,428 to 6,426.

The state Department of Education has set up a school outbreaks page on its website. It can be seen at The page explains, “A confirmed outbreak is described as two or more confirmed COVID-19 cases among students/staff from separate households, within a 14-day period in a single classroom or core group.”

The dashboard includes a column on whether the outbreak led to remote learning. On Friday, the dashboard showed eight school outbreaks in six counties, including North Elementary in Mon.

Bureau of Public Health Commissioner Ayne Amjad said they are not yet equipped to report single school-related cases on the page; for now that information would come from local health departments.

Other COVID news

Justice announced that school golf teams in orange counties may participate in the state golf tournament regionals if the coaches and players get tested for COVID. The recommendation came from the SSAC and state Department of Education.

Adjutant General James Hoyer noted that this was supposed to be the weekend of the Gold Star families retreat and noted the accelerating COVID death rate.

It took 110 days to reach 100 deaths, he said; another 41 days to reach 200; 22 days to reach 300; and it will be less than 22 to reach 400.

In that context, he said, we should remember the sacrifices of the service members and their families, and do our own part to mitigate the spread of COVID. That includes testing. “You may be one of those spreaders and you don’t even know it.”

Marsh answered a question about whether we can use the DHHR alert map to help us consider such activities as dining out, or going to car show or a wedding or church.

He said that the color codes give insight about the level and rate of community spread, so it that sense it’s useful for that purpose, to gauge your risk of exposure.

But he cautioned we shouldn’t be complacent even if our county is green. Green only means the spread has slowed, not that COVID is absent. So practicing all the safety measures keeps us and others safe and helps keep our county green.

Danielle Walker letter

The Dominion Post reported on Friday about a letter Delegate Danielle Walker, D-Mon, sent to Justice informing him of some racist incidents that occurred at BLM protests in Kingwood and Morgantown. Walker had asked Justice to call her personally and to raise the issue during his briefing.

Justice didn’t respond to a request for comment for that report so The Dominion Post asked again during the briefing.

He said, “I’ve done better than that.”

He asked State Police Superintendent Col. Cahill to take care of it from the law enforcement perspective, and Cahill sent a trooper to talk to her.

Justice also contacted the executive director of the state Human Rights Commission and they have reached out to her, too, he said.

“We don’t need to tolerate any level of hate and hatred and hate speech to go on anywhere at any time,” he said.

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