Dr. Cathy Slemp

Ex-W.Va. Health Chief: Cuts Hurt Virus Response

Jul 10, 2020
West Virginia Governor's Office

The former West Virginia public health leader forced out by the governor says decades-old computer systems and cuts to staff over a period of years had made a challenging job even harder during a once-in-a-century pandemic.

Republican Gov. Jim Justice demanded Dr. Cathy Slemp’s resignation on June 24. He complained about discrepancies in the number of active cases and accused Slemp of not doing her job. He has refused to elaborate.

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear from Dr. Cathy Slemp, who was recently ousted from her position as the state’s top public health official. Also, in this show, we hear a report from Marshall University as the school voted to remove the name of a Confederate soldier from a campus building; we hear about a settlement paid to a Black woman from Charleston who was forcefully arrested last year, and we hear from author Jordan Farmer on his new book Poison Flood.

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice is defending his decision to oust the state commissioner of public health after pointing to inaccurate reporting of coronavirus cases. 

In a Monday virtual news briefing, Justice fielded questions from reporters about the resignation of Dr. Cathy Slemp, who stepped down last week from her position as West Virginia’s top public health official. 

On this West Virginia Morning, health officials in the state are concerned that people are becoming too relaxed about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, making outbreaks more likely. Also, one of the state’s top health officials has resigned. And if the state were to tighten restrictions, what might that mean for our friends in recovery from substance abuse?

Sgt. Amouris Cos / U.S. Army National Guard


Coronavirus cases are on the rise in the Eastern Panhandle. Berkeley County has counted 22 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in the past three days. 

Berkeley County’s total number of positive cases, as of Friday morning, is 325 with 14 probable cases, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, and it has the highest number of positive cases in the state. 

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

Check back here for the latest coverage on the coronavirus.

One of the reasons coronavirus is so scary is that it is possible to be a carrier for the disease and not know it. Some people are asymptomatic and some people have mild symptoms. But as of Monday, West Virginia has only tested 84 people for coronavirus – out of a state of 1.8 million. Critics say that’s not nearly enough.

If you wanted to check to see if you had coronavirus so you could make sure you’re in the clear before going to visit an elderly relative – could you? 

The short answer? No – not in West Virginia, at least.