PRINCETON, WV (WOAY) – Now that West Virginia has passed the expected peak of the coronavirus, some think it’s time to open the state back up, but many say it’s still too early.
Mercer County Commissioner Greg Puckett says West Virginia is still behind on testing and is only now seeing many new cases that have previously gone unreported.
“As the tests increase, all the other things increase. And unfortunately we’re also at the point where everybody says they wanna open things back up because West Virginia was always behind,” Puckett said.
On April 16 the state had 62 new cases on just that day. And the state has had almost 100 new cases since April 15, the projected peak. According to Puckett, it’s still going to take some time until new infections slow down enough to the point where businesses can reopen.
“We’re not ready, that’s the thing. People say oh we’re gonna go back to work. But even in the President’s plan, it shows that there’s a long timeline there.”
Despite the long timeline, other states in the nation are very eager to get their economies rolling again. Florida has decided to reopen their beaches, despite having nearly 26,000 infected, with 500 new cases just this weekend. If things open up too soon, new infections will likely soar even further.
“It’s a delicate balance but you also gotta be understanding that you can’t just willy-nilly open up because you’re gonna continue infecting the population that has no immunity to the virus.”
And according to Puckett, Southern West Virginia has even further to go until things get even remotely back to normal. The region has had a slow start to the pandemic and will likely see many new infections in the future.
“And right now I can tell you that in southern West Virginia, we have not hit the peak. And so if you’re out there and trying to get back to whatever normal was, that’s gonna be detrimental to our long term sustainability of this understanding of the virus. So don’t do it.”
Some public health researchers believe that because of the lax testing nationwide, the real case amount could be between five and twenty times higher than the reported cases. In West Virginia, that would mean there are anywhere between 4000 and 16000 actual cases.