West Virginia leaders: Testing could save the holidays

Could help economy, ensure family gatherings, officials say
Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 6:20 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WTAP) - Governor Jim Justice says there are some counties whose free testing is getting poor response-as few as 19 people in some non-high alert counties have shown up for free testing.

He continued at his briefing Friday to appeal to West Virginians to get tested for COVID-19.

“This is why we kept dollars back from the CARES side, to be able to do PPE and testing," the governor said, referring to the distribution of federal funds for which his administration has often been criticized, "because we knew being prudent and always having something left, we would be able to cover this.”

And Dr. Clay Marsh, a member of the state’s coronavirus task force, says, with the holidays approaching, testing is a way to ensure residents can attend family gatherings.

“If you test negative, then you can feel much more comfortable going into that environment,” Marsh said in response to a reporter’s question. "And we want to suggest that you keep this to really small groups, and people who are around each other all the time as much as possible.”

With positive test numbers and deaths rising not only in West Virginia, but across the country,, the governor said he won’t rule out another economic shutdown: something that could be more devastating during the holidays than it was in the spring.

“The last thing on earth I want to do is go that way. But you’ve seen that I will, and I will if need be.”

Also on Friday, Gov. Justice joined Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard, in honoring WVNG Command Sgt. Maj. Phillip R. Cantrell with the West Virginia Distinguished Service Medal.

Cantrell is retiring following a 32-year career in the United States Army.

“Command Sergeant Major Cantrell has spent more than three decades and traveled all around the world to defend the freedoms that we hold dear as West Virginians and as Americans. We all owe him a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid,” Justice said. “We owe everything we have to the men and women of our West Virginia National Guard and all of our members of the military, active and retired, who have served and sacrificed to make our lives better. I congratulate Command Sergeant Major Cantrell, from the bottom of my heart, on a career well-spent serving his fellow West Virginians, and I wish him nothing but the best in his much-deserved retirement.”

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