West Virginia cases increase; Ohio looks closer at minorities

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CHARLESTON, W.Va., COLUMBUS, Oh.-(WTAP) West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has expanded his aggressive plan to lift coronavirus restrictions after announcing new hotspots in the state's eastern panhandle.

Graphic provided by West Virginia DHHR

The Republican governor on Thursday said he's considering a mandatory face mask order for Berkeley and Jefferson counties after at least 35 news cases were reported there in a single day.

He has dispatched the National Guard to the region to assess the situation. Right after detailing the spike in the eastern panhandle, Justice announced he's letting swimming pools, bowling alleys, spas video lottery retailers, movie theaters and casinos reopen in the coming weeks.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said the state will begin tracking racial disparities among victims of the coronavirus more closely, and making the results available on the state’s COVID-19 website.

Ohio is also hiring as many as 1,800 local and state public health workers to help notify Ohioans of possible exposure to the virus, the governor said.

The pandemic is disproportionately affecting minorities in Ohio as it is elsewhere, state records show. Blacks make up 17% of COVID-19 deaths, 26% of all cases and 31% of hospitalizations, although they make up only about 13% of Ohioans.