West Virginia lifting stay-home order under eased benchmark

(AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice on Thursday said he is lifting the
statewide stay-home order next week as part of his plan to ease coronavirus restrictions.

Republican said a new rule will go into effect Monday encouraging
people to stay home but not requiring them to do so. The move coincides
with the reopening of small businesses, outdoor dining at restaurants
and barbers on Monday.

The governor is pressing forward with an aggressive reopening plan unveiled earlier this week, though he has loosened his testing benchmark without explanation.

has based his plan on having the state remain under a 3% positive test
rate for three days, reversing a previous goal of having new cases
decline for two consecutive weeks.

Marsh, a West Virginia University official leading the state’s virus
response, has previously said he wanted the two-week benchmark. A White
House guideline for states also pushed a two-week criteria.

Marsh has not said why the benchmark
was eased but said the state has enough downward trend lines to warrant
the removal of restrictions. He has acknowledged that it would take a
severe outbreak for the state’s positive case rate to rise high enough
to pause the reopening since the metric factors in tens-of-thousands of
old tests.

noting criticism of using the cumulative 3% standard Thursday, said the
daily case rate has remained low in the last few days. State health
data shows there have been no significant declines in the total of new
positive cases when measured day-by-day.

About 1,100
people have the virus after around 44,700 tests, according to the state
health department. Testing is limited for the general public but the
state has roughly doubled the number of people screened under an order
to test residents and staff of all nursing homes in the state.
Forty-four people in the state have died.

Justice’s reopening plan went into effect this week, with hospitals allowed to resume elective procedures. On Thursday, outpatient services such as dentists, physical therapists and psychologists were allowed to reopen. The West Virginia Board of Dentistry has declined to allow offices to open, instead setting a return date of May 11 with the requirement that practices complete safety training and have protective safety equipment before reopening.

will mark the second week of the governor’s plan with the reopening of
barbers, small businesses with fewer than 10 employees, dog groomers and
restaurants with outdoor seating. Weeks three through six will lift
restrictions on offices, gyms, hotels and other businesses.

in the state House of Delegates on Thursday released a letter to the
governor’s office saying they did not know of the governor’s reopening
strategy until Justice announced it publicly. The letter asks if there
is a plan for reopening the state’s tourism industry, if there will be
enhanced safety rules for businesses as they reopen and if the state
will have enough testing and protective equipment as it reopens. It also
questions why reopening is based on the cumulative testing benchmark.

all of the cumulative data to determine infection rate may artificially
suppress the rate of infection and potentially hide what might be a
significant spike in infections,” the letter reads.

Justice administration has not given clear benchmarks on what kinds of
testing capacity and safety equipment inventory it wants to have as part
of the reopening strategy.

most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such
as fever and cough that clear up within weeks. For some, especially
older adults and those with existing health problems, it can bring about
more severe illness and even death.

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Source: Mountain Top