CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Governor Jim Justice announced the testing priority in his Monday media briefing, after reading the names of the latest 15 West Virginians to die from coronavirus.
At its peak last week, West Virginia was testing on average, 4,600 people per day. And, after being labeled “red.” Kanawha County held public testing seven straight days. The goal is now to test 10,000 people a day statewide.
“We have added a significant number of labs to our testing arsenal here. We have a capacity now that is a little over 10,000, we believe, a day. So we have increased that significantly,” said Bill Crouch, WV Secretary of Health & Human Resources.
A lot of it will come with the assistance of the more than 350 National Guard men and women now on the front lines.
“That along with the support needed to local health departments and to local administrators of the testing are the key issues we continue to focus on,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, West Virginia National Guard.
The priority for testing will be aimed at the counties with the highest positive case rates. That means any county depicted as “orange” or “red” on the state map, will get the greatest emphasis for additional testing.
“The more likely we are to find somebody or people that have this disease, that don’t know it. So the more we test, the more likely we are to find those people,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.
The governor says paying for the added testing is not a problem, as the state still has not spent a significant portion of the $1.25 billion in federal aid sent from Washington last spring.
“State public health officials say the people they worry about the most are young West Virginians. That’s because they are the least likely to get tested and of those being tested less than 40% are men,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.