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Political sparring erupts in WV Governor’s race over COVID-19 response

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — It is the latest nursing home hot spot in West Virginia.

Princeton Health Care Center in Mercer County logged 42 positive COVID-19 cases and at least one death since March. Many are no longer active. But when an employee tested positive in early July, the center said it asked for testing help from the state, but was initially denied. That brought criticism from Gov. Jim Justice’s main political opponent.

“You know after the Governor came out and said that he always runs to the fire, we specifically referenced that instance in Princeton, and then we learned that he didn’t at all. That the fire had been going on for quite sometime before it actually got his attention,” said Commissioner Ben Salango, (D) Nominee for West Virginia Governor.

The State Department of Health and Human Resources disputes the account, with a timeline of contacts with Princeton Health. There was a 15-day delay between the first round of testing and a second July case being confirmed at Princeton. However, the state says all employees and staff were tested again on July 23, with some follow up testing this week.

“So the arguments in the press, or the discussion in the press, that something was missed is inaccurate. It is not true,” said Bill Crouch, Secretary of WV Department of Health.

“You know, but from my standpoint, it is just as simple as mud, and that’s all there is to it. If we one person, one person at a nursing home that tests positive. We need to be running to that nursing home,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.

Princeton Health officials also complained that they were never directly told one of their cases was traced to Myrtle Beach. They found out from the Governor’s press briefing on Wednesday.

“Because one of the Princeton cases was linked to Myrtle Beach, state health officials say it’s important for West Virginians who go out of state on vacation, to get tested when they come back,” said Mark Curtis 13 Chief Political Reporter.

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