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State officials discuss testing

COVID-19 Tests Photo: zGov. Tom Wolf / CC BY 2.0 via MGN.
COVID-19 Tests Photo: zGov. Tom Wolf / CC BY 2.0 via MGN.(KOLO)
Published: May. 18, 2020 at 5:20 PM EDT
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Near the end of Monday's West Virginia briefing, Governor Jim Justice produced figures showing the percentage of positive test cases declines if testing is broadened beyond just people showing symptoms of the coronavirus.

Until recently, that has been among the requirements for an individual to be tested: showing symptoms.

The governor Monday removed four remaining counties from the state's "hot spot" list-as the Department of Health and Human Resources rolls out a new system of identifying counties at risk of seeing a spike in cases.

Health officials say that will include a system aimed at quickly identifying people who both contract and spread the virus.

"Currently, we certainly monitor each of those individuals for current symptoms, and as soon as they develop symptoms, we test immediately," said Dr. Cathy Slemp, state health officer. "And they're exploring, is there a broader way to do testing there to potentially identify some of those cases even earlier."

In Ohio, nearly 4,500 inmates in the state prison system have tested positive. 60 prisoners and two employees have died.

Even with those numbers, the prison system is resuming accepting inmates from county jails serving state sentences, and a new testing plan has gone into effect at an eastern Ohio prison.

"We are using this new testing plan at Belmont Correctional Institution," said Annette Chambers-Smith, Director of the Ohio Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. "I think over 200 people have been tested there already. Some of the elements of this new testing plan involve testing people on their way into the system, quarantining them for 14 days and not allowing them to leave reception for 35 days."

And the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety announced Monday a second corrections employee has tested positive.

The individual is a part-time employee at the Huttonsville Correctional Center, who is quarantined and home in good condition.

DMAPS spokesman Lawrence Messina says the new case has prompted additional precautions at the Huttonsville facility.

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