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W.Va. officials discuss map; Ohio doctors discuss hospitalizations

Health expert: alert map “a public health map”
Published: Nov. 9, 2020 at 5:09 PM EST
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UNDATED (WTAP) - With football playoffs set to begin this weekend in West Virginia-and several counties with teams that may not be able to play-Governor Jim Justice and West Virginia health officials are again defending the map that helps determine whether county schools open.

Release of the latest weekly map was delayed until late Saturday night this past weekend, the governor said Monday, while health experts determine county alert levels.

Wood County is “orange” on the latest map. That means sports can’t take place until this Sunday, at the earliest, and only if the county returns to a lower color code: gold, yellow or green.

But the governor said the map’s main purpose is in-person education.

“Sports are important, I am a coach, I get it," said Justice, a girls' basketball coach. "But school is more important. And surely to goodness, if we can’t go to school, we don’t need to be playing.”

Governor Justice repeated a comment he made Friday, reminding residents he ordered the state girls and boys championships championships halted at the beginning of the pandemic last March, just as his girls team was on the verge of winning a championship.

Coronavirus task force member, Dr. Clay Marsh, seemed to contradict the governor’s comments a bit, however, saying the alert map’s main goal isn’t sports or schools, but overall public health.

Dr. Marsh went on to say that, as more COVID-19 tests are conducted statewide, the positivity rate will decline, but the case incidence rate will increase, also affecting each county’s status.

The governor began his briefing, as always, by noting the deaths reported during the past few days. The state has now passed the 500-death mark, with 530 reported as of Monday morning.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, meanwhile, hosted a discussion of hospital leaders from all corners of the state, about how the recent spread of the virus is affecting hospital capacity. All agreed the current situation is manageable, but there’s increasing concern over the recent daily numbers, which have been at record levels.

Dr. Andrew Thomas, Clinical Director for the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said there’s one factor, more than others, driving the recent spike in cases.

“A lot of the spread of this is happening in people’s personal homes, said Dr. Thomas, one of three hospital officials addressing the briefing. "It’s happening with parties in people’s back yards and people’s basements. It’s happening at large weddings and, unfortunately, at funerals. I think we’ve all heard those anecdotal stories.”

Dr. Thomas does not believe a “stay at home” order, as was put into effect at the start of the pandemic last spring, would lead to a decrease in cases.

In recent weeks, Ohio’s percentage of positive cases has increased from 3-8%.

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