Governor Justice briefly addresses Mineral County's COVID numbers
By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - Gov. Jim Justice briefly addressed Mineral County’s skyrocketing COVID-19 numbers during his daily virtual press conference Friday.
Recognizing that a large chunk of the positive cases are a result of the ongoing outbreaks in the county’s nursing homes, the Governor also said Mineral County’s location has in part contributed to the ongoing rise in COVID-19 cases.
“Look where Mineral County is; people move across county lines,” he said.
Mineral County Health Department administrator A.Jay Root agreed with the Governor’s comments, noting that Mineral County and Allegany County residents are continually moving back and forth across the state lines and as a result, the two counties have been “mirroring each other” in terms of skyrocketing COVID numbers.
“You can’t look at this as West Virginia specific, or Mineral County specific, it’s the entire area,” Root said. “It’s an area community spread. The river does not stop it.”
And while Gov. Justice said he thought part of the spike in positives in Mineral County might have been traced to a “public gathering,” Root told the News Tribune he attributes the increases not so much to one specific gathering but more to the holidays and the election.
“There were parties, and the election. How many people were out and about then?” he said. “And a week or two weeks later, things really kicked in.”
“These public gatherings are really getting us,” Gov. Justice said in his comments.
Root also said Mineral County is now seeing spikes in numbers because the county is down to offering free community testing only twice each week, as opposed to the every day occurrence a couple weeks ago.
The numbers naturally go up when more testing is done, but when that testing is not as readily available, the numbers decrease slightly.
“We just don’t have the staff, and the state doesn’t have the staff, to do it every day,” he said.
Root did note, however, that the spike of 88 positives that were recently reported were not from community testing, but rather from testing being performed by health care facilities.
“That concerns me,” he said.
He expects the numbers will take another large jump soon, as he is currently awaiting the results of 850 tests.
Mineral County reported 487 active cases on Thursday, for a total of 1,258 cases since the pandemic began.
Root explained that those are all unique cases, although some could be an individual who was infected and then later re-infected. That person would be counted twice.
Someone who has recovered from the virus and continued to test positive due to some virus remaining in his system are only counted once, however.