As positive cases in Fayette County rise to four, health department cautions ‘re-opening’ anytime soon

FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – The Fayette County Health Department has confirmed that the number of positive cases in the county is now up to four.

As there continues to be nationwide talk about re-opening certain states, even with West Virginia’s comparatively good numbers, both Governor Jim Justice  and the Fayette County Health Department Administrator Teri Harlan remain cautious to do so.

“I want us to absolutely get back to a life that’s as close to where we could possibly be as soon as we possibly can, but, and this is great big but, I am not going to do something that I feel in my heart is the wrong thing that’s going to endanger our people,” Governor Justice said in Friday’s press conference.

Justice said he is going by President Trump’s guidance to do it in phases.

In order for the state to make it to Phase One, the governor says there have to be 14 days of small case numbers with a good curve.

Phase One would open up large venues like churches and restaurants with strict distancing protocols.  As cases continue to trickle in in Fayette County, Harlan says right now, we need to stay the course.

“I will say that Fayette County just confirmed two more positive cases so again, we are not in a safe place, in my opinion, to open things back up again,” Harlan said.

The big fear shared by both government and health officials is to prematurely open up and have to close back down again.

Also Governor Justice said he worries that counties like Fayette County with single-digit cases could become hotspots if the state were to open back up.

Harlan says she knows it is painful for businesses and workers but reminds everyone the health department is here to help and is following guidance from the experts.

“We want businesses to be able to open back up,” Harlan said. “We just feel like it should be baby steps. You know, we need to make sure we’re doing it with the safety of everyone in mind.”

The health department is still asking everyone to take proper precautions, only send one person out, wear masks in public, practice physical distancing and continue hand hygiene efforts.

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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.