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Candidates clash over COVID-19 map

Salango accuses Justice of "fudging" numbers
Published: Aug. 17, 2020 at 4:51 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va (WTAP) - Republican Governor Jim Justice and his Democratic fall election opponent trade comments on the just-introduced COVID-19 map.

The process for outlining the color-coded map doesn’t individually count prison inmates and residents of nursing homes and other senior living facilities.

Justice and state health officials said Friday the map’s main purpose is to determine whether schools in each county can open safely.

Democratic candidate Ben Salango, in a news conference Monday, accused the governor of “fudging” numbers to make it look like some counties have fewer cases.

”And if we have an outbreak in a nursing home, I’m calling on Jim Justice to count each resident as one,” Salango said, “and to stop counting our front-line nursing home workers as half.”

“Those people are in a captive atmosphere,” Justice said at a briefing, held about three hours after Salango’s statements. “To make it really simple, we count those people on the metric we use as one.”>

The governor also said the system will be “tweaked” to count employees of nursing homes and prisons as individuals, since those people go out into the community.

Salango, in a statement released late Monday, said nursing home patients and prisoners potentially can infect employees, potentially causing them to spread the virus.

The model, based on a system used at Harvard University, will use four colors to classify the status of each county’s school system based on the seven-day average of new daily cases per 100,000 population.

The colors range from minimal community transmission in green, moderate transmission in yellow, higher transmission in orange and substantial transmission in red. Schools in counties that have an orange or red coding will not be allowed to have athletic competitions. Red counties must suspend in-person instruction and activate remote learning plans.

Salango Monday also said he does not believe West Virginia schools are ready to reopen in-person classes September 8.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)

Copyright 2020 WTAP. All rights reserved.

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