At his daily press briefing today, Wednesday, March 25, Gov. Jim Justice announced West Virginia Schools would remain closed until at least April 20.
The governor also responded to the recent jump in confirmed coronavirus cases, which rose from 20 to 39, as of Tuesday evening. State Health Officer Dr. Cathy Slemp reported that most of those victims were outpatients who did not require hospitalization.
West Virginia University’s Chief Health Officer Clay Marsh, who also joined the governor’s panel of health and emergency experts, said that the increase of positive cases — from 3.3 percent to 5.1 percent of all those tested — was an expected jump.
“There’s nothing that is really surprising from this,” Marsh said. “But it does really support the steps that we’ve taken.”
Marsh stressed the importance of heeding state-issued guidance, encouraging residents to stay home as much as possible, maintain social distancing recommendations, handwashing and to avoid touching one’s face. He pointed out that the coronavirus has statistically significantly higher infectivity rate than influenza.
“Every person who is infected with influenza will at least predictably infect 1.2 to 1.6 new people,” Marsh explained. “A single person with the novel coronavirus will infect 2.6 to 3.1 people.”
Marsh reiterated that it’s an important time to stay home in an effort to protect neighbors, family, and healthcare workers, adding that unlike China and Italy, health analysts are finding 38 percent of victims in the U.S. are under 55 years old, and 20 percent are 20-40 years old.
Justice announced statewide school closures have been extended until April 20, and West Virginians are not expected to file state taxes till July 15. That corresponds to the federal tax schedule, which was adjusted in light of the nationwide COVID-19 pandemic. Justice has also waived all interest and penalties on state property tax filings from the March deadline to May 1.
All updates should be available on state websites by Thursday.