Gov. Justice announces that discussions on “Phase 2” of coronavirus response are underway

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – Gov. Jim Justice joined State health leaders and officials from his administration at the Capitol Complex in Charleston yesterday for a virtual press briefing to once again update the public on the many measures being taken in the interest of protecting the public from the spread of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

On Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that he has begun to have discussions with medical experts and other officials about transitioning into the next phase of the State’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

While discussions are ongoing, the Governor did say that a main tenant of this so-called “Phase 2” would be to fine-tune the testing process for COVID-19.

“As we begin that transition, and let’s just hope and pray that our curve continues to stay rock solid and drift down, but then let’s say that all of the experts and everyone says we’re moving into an arena to where we might be able to bring people back to work and bring communities back and everything else,” Gov. Justice said. “As we’re doing that, you know things are going to be somewhat different, for sure. We’re not going to be able to rush right back out and get ourselves in a bigger mess than we’ve already been in. We have prevented a catastrophic mess and we don’t want to rush right back out and do things that are going to cause us to have a relapse that would be much greater than what we contended with on the first go around.

“There’s lots and lots of contingencies that are already in the works on how we’re going to be able to go about doing this and, as we get further down the line, we want to be able to test on a widespread basis in a much more dramatic way than we’ve done before.”

“As we come back out again, we need to become much more like a scalpel than like a hammer,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia Coronavirus Czar. “Ultimately, we need to have the ability, as the Governor said, to test very broadly. We have to think abundantly and create the resources to enable that.

“Instead of the tests that we do today on COVID, which really test for the genetic appearance for the virus in people, we need to move toward looking at tests that tell whether people have immunity toward the virus and that’s a second type of test that is being developed around the country,” Marsh continued. “When we test and identify people that are COVID positive, we need to, very rapidly, identify those people and their contacts and isolate those people versus everybody so that we can reduce that person-to-person spread.”

Dr. Marsh also said that systems would need to be put in place to continue manufacturing a stable supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“There is a lot that’s being done and a lot to do,” Marsh said. “We are committed to moving as quickly and as safely as possible to get back to work, to get back to school, to get people back together. But, as the Governor has instructed us to do and has been an absolute leader doing, the health and well-being of our citizens, of you, is the primary responsibility.”

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