Coronavirus Updates

‘Gold’ category added to WV County Alert System

West Virginia

UPDATE: 2 p.m. Sept. 15, 2020: The West Virginia Department of Heatlh and Human Resources has released more details on the change to the School Alert System map.

As West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and other state officials announced in his press conference this morning, counties in gold have 10 – 14.9 cases of COVID-19 infection per 100,000 people.

The WV DHHR and the West Virginia Department of Education stay counties in the gold category will be able to move to an in-person instructional model with restrictions including face coverings at all times for grades 3-12. Extracurricular activities are permitted and competitions may are allowed only against schools within the same county as well as schools in other gold counties, according to the WVDE.

The WVDE says as part of the update, counties deemed orange on Sept 12 that have been moved to gold may now return to in-person instruction as early as tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the discretion of their local boards of education. The boards may also choose to make their decisions based on the map update Saturday, Sept. 19. They will also be able to resume activities outlined on the WVDE website.

According to the WVDE, here’s where counties currently stand on the School Alert System map based on the County Alert System map released Saturday, Sept. 12:

  • Red (Substantial Community Transmission):  Monongalia
  • Orange (Heightened Community Transmission): Kanawha and Monroe
  • Gold (Elevated Community Transmission): Boone, Fayette, Logan, Mingo and Putnam
  • Yellow (Increased Community Transmission): Berkeley, Brooke, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Grant, Greenbrier, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Lincoln, McDowell, Mercer, Ohio, Pocahontas, Raleigh, Roane, Summers, Taylor, Tucker, Upshur and Wayne
  • Green (Minimal Community Transmission): Barbour, Braxton, Gilmer, Hardy, Hampshire, Lewis, Marion, Marshall,  Mason, Mineral, Morgan, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pleasants, Preston, Randolph, Ritchie, Tyler, Webster, Wetzel, Wood, Wirt and Wyoming

The next School Alert System map update is scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2020, at 5:00 p.m., according to the WVDE.

The WVDE says all schools, both public and private, are expected to adhere to the School Alert System map to guide in-person instruction and extracurricular activities.

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says state officials have once again tweaked the County Alert System.

Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia COVID-19 Czar, said the gold category has been added to the map as well as more aggressive mitigation measures for schools. Marsh says the category will be added between yellow and orange in the current system.

The state COVID-19 Czar says the current model adapted from the Harvard Global Health Insitute unintentionally created the opposite effect in regard to testing. He said the state has decreased testing, as the map “motivated people to test less” whereas the state needs to test more people.

More testing will help the state mitigate the spread by finding pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, according to Marsh. Justice added that more testing will also help West Virginia counties report more accurate data, giving the state more knowledge to help the counties. They said lower testing skews the infection rate, moving it higher on the system.

Marsh also says the Harvard model is better suited for states with more evenly spread populations, unlike West Virginia which has several smaller, rural counties.

West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch said the new gold level will include counties with a seven-day rolling average of 10 to 14.9 daily cases per 100,000 people and/or a positivity rate of 5% or lower.

Putnam, Fayette, Logan, Mingo and Boone Counties will be affected by the update, according to Burch. As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, just an hour before the press briefing, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources County Alert System, included Cabell County as an orange county at a seven-day rolling average of 10.72 daily cases per 100,000 people. Burch did not say if Cabell County is included yet in the list of counties to be moved to the gold level.

Burch says the details for the update will be released today, and counties in the gold will require masks at all times for children in third grade and above, as well as prohibiting assemblies or large gatherings. He says the change would have allowed about 67,000 children to attend school in person this week.

Burch also says he will be working with superintendents across the state to see how the PPE provided to help schools start has been used so far.

Bernie Dolan, executive director for the WVSSAC says under the updated system, counties in green and yellow be able to allow grandparents to attend sporting events. When counties move to gold, more restrictions will be added, he says. Extracurricular activities will only be allowed in-county or playing against other counties in gold and attendance will be limited to only parents and guardians.

Justice says travel ball will not be allowed in counties in the gold, orange and red levels.

Dolan says the WVSSAC will release more details as to what is defined as conditioning for orange counties.

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