New color included in the County Alert System

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Gov. Justice and state officials provide an update for media on COVID-19 preparedness and response plans. For more information about COVID-19 prevention and more, call the State’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-887-4304 or visit Coronavirus.wv.gov.

The Rt factor, or reproductive rate, for West Virginia fell to 1.27. The number is still the highest in the country, but it is down from a high of more than 1.4.

The Governor announced on Tuesday he will insert a Gold color into the state’s County Alert System. This is to narrow the Orange band which previously stretched from 10.1 to 24.9. The Gold range extends from 10 to 14.9. Orange is now 15 to 24.9. The change comes after a meeting at the Governor’s mansion on Monday night. This meeting included health experts, school administrators and leaders with the WVSSAC.

Dr. Clay Marsh stated the metrics of the map previously encouraged less testing rather than more, which is not what WV health leaders wanted to accomplish. He also stated the model they used was not built for rural communities such as West Virginia.

In addition to adding a Gold color to the County Alert System map, they are also adding a percent positive rate on a five-day rolling average. This is targeted at getting the metric below 5-percent. The goal is to have more testing in order to detect those who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic and spread the illness without knowing it. This provides two ways for counties to move into a different range.

The tweaks to the map are expected to help get in-person school going in counties which are currently restricted. There were 67,000 children impacted by the system as it was, stated WV School Superintendent Clayton Burch.

Counties in Gold will require students to wear masks at all times. This includes grades 3 through 12. There are also restrictions on assemblies and other events. It affects five counties including Fayette County.

Bernie Dolan commented on the changes for activities. This will allow parents and grandparents to attend sporting events. Gold counties will be restricted to parents or guardians only. The WVSSAC is also defining “conditioning” for counties in the Orange range.

There will be no travel ball be allowed in counties which are in the Gold, Orange and Red counties. The state will also look at what is needed to enforce mandatory mask orders. An investigation into what was going on in Fayette County regarding the start of Gauley Season showed in some cases it was the residents of the county who were not complying with the Governor’s executive orders.

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