Gov. Jim Justice held a statewide address Saturday, urging West Virginians to take the coronavirus seriously, stay home and take care of the elderly. The governor announced the number of confirmed cases in the state is now 12 but the address did not include any other major updates.
Justice used the 25 minute address to commend health care workers and said steps were being taken to protect both them and their families, including possibly allowing them to stay on sight and be tested before going home.
He said he felt compelled to “sit with” West Virginians tonight after watching the death toll rise in states like New York.
Clay Marsh, vice president and executive dean for WVU Medicine also spoke during the address. Both Marsh and Justice expressed concern that what is happening in New York could happen in West Virginia.
“New York City has had a tsunami wave of the surge of very sick people thrown at them to the level where their health care system is starting to break down,” said Marsh. “In contrast to what the governor has led us to do in this state which is to be very aggressive to do the things we have in our power to stop the spread of this virus. New York City did not and now they are under water.”
Marsh pointed to the data from China that indicates it takes about two weeks to recover from coronavirus -- and said that if a large number of West VIrginians were to contract the disease, it could totally overwhelm West Virginia’s hospitals. But he said that West Virginia is actually in a unique position to look at what is happening elsewhere and take preemptive action to prevent it.
“And we know since New York is having the problems it's having that we have a real opportunity but that opportunity is time limited,” Marsh said.
Justice ended his address by saying that if West Virginians took the situation seriously, the state could avoid at least some of the tragedy being seen elsewhere around the world.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from Marshall Health and Charleston Area Medical Center.