Dr. Ayne Amjad responds to COVID-19 case reporting concerns

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – AFT West Wirginia expressed its frustration with the state’s alleged abandonment of reporting school-related coronavirus cases earlier today.

Previously, Governor Justice pledged to keep reporting transparent and Dr. Ayne Amjad also promised to keep the public updated on school case numbers. This morning, many questioned if the government  kept that promise.

“I’m a mom just as well as a union leader and I’ve been a teacher,” said Fayette County local Tega Toney. “I know that I want, when I’m making decisions for my son, I want to be able to survey the landscape and see what’s going on in schools. I’m sure that other parents would appreciate that opportunity as well.”

In an article posted by the Charleston Gazette, the newspaper said the government is no longer reporting the numbers, despite the governor and Dr. Amjad promising to do so.

“If they’re going to make a promise of transparency, then we need to abide by that,” said Toney after the news broke. “We’re West Virginians. We’re people of our word. When you get on TV in front of the whole state and you promise to be transparent and then it turns out you’re not reporting school numbers or school cases, that doesn’t lend itself to transparency. In fact, that’s the exact opposite.”

Dr. Amjad addressed the concerns during the governor’s press briefing on Wednesday, saying nothing has changed.

“If a child or staff member is positive, it goes to the local health department,” said Amjad. “They then do contact tracing and it will still go through those regular contact tracing modes.”

DHHR Director of Communications Allison Adler also released a statement via email regarding the claim, saying:

“When it comes to schools and universities, the only thing that is being reported right now to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) is an outbreak which are two or more laboratory confirmed cases among staff or students with onsets within a 14-day period, who are epidemiologically linked to the school setting (e.g. same classroom, core group, bus, sports team, meeting, etc.). This shows evidence of transmission rather than single cases that became infected in the community and just happen to work or attend the same school.”

Amjad continued in the briefing, saying numbers are reported locally rather than listed in the daily update provided by the DHHR.

“Those are reported to the school board, the local health departments, parents are notified, teachers are notified. They are aware at the community level, so nothing has changed as far as that goes.”

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Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.