UPDATE: MOV Health Department discusses COVID-19 response

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CHARLESTON, W.Va.-(WTAP) - Update: 3/5/2020

The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department is creating a response plan to the coronavirus threat-by updating a policy that began a decade ago.

That plan was developed in response to the H1N1 virus, and it has been up/dated once in the past ten years.

Several organizations will be involved in the plan as well.

"If something would happen and we would have to do alternative sites for people," says Spokeswoman Carrie Brainard, "as well as getting materials, vaccinations or medications out to people, we have a lot of those resources in place, memorandums of understanding with different organizations to do that."

Those organizations also include hospitals, nursing homes and first responders.

In other developments, The Senate has passed and sent on to the president an $8.3 billion measure to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

And West Virginia University has launched a website about the university's potential response to a coronavirus threat.

There's a link to it at the "Hot Button".


Update: 3/4/2020

Following a roundtable meeting with members of Gov. Jim Justice's administration and medical experts, Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bill Crouch announced Wednesday that three cases "similar to the flu" have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing for coronavirus.

Officials say all three patients have either traveled to areas of concern or come into contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus.

Officials expect to have results back within the next 5 to 10 days.

This week, Gov. Justice and Crouch participated in a national briefing call with Vice President Mike Pence and officials with the Trump Administration.

During the press conference Crouch said health experts will have the capability to test for coronavirus in the state lab soon. Crouch said Vice President Mike Pence assured state leaders that kits would be available.

Currently, West Virginia has no confirmed cases of coronavirus and Wednesday officials called West Virginia at low risk.

Commissioner and State Health Officer of the WVDHHR Catherine C. Slemp did suggest that the public get a couple of weeks worth of supplies in case there would be quarantines.

Crouch says a hotline to answer questions surrounding coronavirus will be set up in roughly a week or two.


Update: 3/4/2020 5:40 P.M.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) _
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says state residents should live their normal lives and not cancel travel plans despite the emerging threat of the new coronavirus.

Justice held a news briefing along with Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch at the Capitol on Wednesday to discuss steps West Virginia is taking and to give common-sense advice on how people should protect themselves.

There are no known cases of the virus thus far in West Virginia. The briefing came after Justice held a private roundtable with administration and medical officials.


Update: 3/4/2020

The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department says it is working on an area-wide response plan to the coronavirus crisis.

The health department plans to reach out to other agencies and organizations for recommendations to combat the potential spread of the virus.

Those include the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

It plans a meeting Friday with Wood County Schools officials.

In the meantime, spokeswoman Carrie Brainard advises patients to continue normal hygiene practices.


Update: 3/3/2020

Local school systems are looking to health department and Centers for Disease Control guidelines for dealing with the COVID-19 virus.

Wood County Schools believes it has had a head start on precautions, continuing actions it took during the winter in response to the flue, which took its toll on students attendance.

"We have been in the process of treating the flu," says Wood County School Superintendent William Hosaflook, "hand sanitizing, wiping down desks and bus seats. This is really an extension of our extremely difficult flu season this year."

And U.S. Senator Joe Manchin Tuesday announced a page on his website dedicated to information and updates on preventative measures.

Manchin told reporters in a conference call Tuesday afternoon he wants state to have preparedness funding-without diverting it from other critical programs.

And administrators from the Washington County Health Department says they have learned a lot about dealing with the Coronavirus from the response to the H1N1 outbreak 10 years ago.

Marietta College, meantime, plans an information session on the virus, beginning at 4:00 Thursday afternoon at the Alma McDonough Auditorium.

Dr. Steve Spilatro, Biology professor, and Dr. Kevin Alten, Physician Assistant Studies professor, will be discussing the public health issues surrounding the spread of the virus and offering advice on prevention. They will also take questions from the audience..


3/2/2020

No cases of the coronavirus have so far been reported in West Virginia or Ohio.

But places where a lot of people are in close quarters are beginning to take precautions.

Among them, West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

The school's president says faculty, staff and students are being updated on the latest on the virus.

People using restroom facilities are being reminded to take precautions, and cleaning supplies are being stockpiled.

"The tools we're using so far are communication with all of our community; keeping the lines of communication open, says WVU-President Dr. Chris Gilmer. "Taking all the precautions CDC is suggesting, that colleges and universities take."

Meanwhile West Virginia Governor Jim Justice says he and state Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch discussed the outbreak Monday in a conference call with Vice-President Mike Pence and Trump administration officials.

The governor plans a roundtable meeting Wednesday to discuss the state's preparations for the virus.