CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) Gov. Jim Justice announced adjustments for the state’s color-coded system for reopening schools.

The system is based off of the Harvard Global Health Institute’s metric system.

Justice made the announcement during his Monday, Aug. 17, press conference. He says the adjustments make the system better tailored to West Virginia’s population.

“In all reality many, many, many of our counties would’ve looked at that as ‘we can make it to the yellow, but we’ll never make it to the green,” said Justice.

The map is based on a seven-day rolling average. The color-coding for will be as follows:

  • Green: 0-3 cases per 100,000 population
  • Yellow: 3-9 cases per 100,000 population
  • Orange: 10-24 cases per 100,000 population
  • Red: more than 25 cases per 100,000 population

The Harvard model allows 0-1 case per 100,000 residents.

West Virginia’s COVID-19 Czar Dr. Clay Marsh calls their expansion of the green safe zone “innovative.”

“We have basically decided that we are just going to focus and look at the community spread and so that is actually to me a real innovation from the Harvard model, particularly when it comes to opening schools and other community activities,” he said.

Following this metric measure, outbreaks in single facilities like jails and nursing homes will be counted as one case.

“You know our inmates are in a place that they’re not going to get out of, our nursing residents are in a place they’re not going to leave and get out of,” said Justice.

Previously, staff at facilities like nursing homes and jails who had tested positive for COVID-19 were to be counted as one within the facility with the outbreak, instead, they’ll now be counted as one individually since they are likely to leave the facility.

Boone, Mingo, Lincoln and Taylor are currently coded orange. Logan remains in the red due to the county’s 243 active cases.

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Bill J. Crouch said a new dashboard will be unveiled Tuesday with new items of information.

“We do listen and this new map will show that we’re trying to do what’s best for everyone and hopefully explain things better,” said Dr. Ayne Amjad, State Health Officer and Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. 

Justice says the map makes counties following guidelines clearer.