Dave Mistich Published

4 Day Care Staff In Kanawha Co. Test Positive For COVID-19

Updated Wednesday, May 6, 2020 at 4:55 p.m.

Four people working in Kanawha County day care facilities have tested positive for the coronavirus. The ongoing testing of day care staff is part of an effort to reopen West Virginia’s economy, but will now be mandated under an executive order. 

During a virtual news conference Wednesday, Justice said four day care staff members in Kanawha County have tested positive for COVID-19. Justice said none of the four has shown symptoms of the disease, which has so far killed 50 West Virginians. 

“We need them to be able to take care of our children as our workers go to work,” Justice said Wednesday. “But we absolutely cannot risk anything to our children.”

As of Wednesday morning, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is reporting 1,238 positive tests of COVID-19.

Charleston and Kanawha County officials say the positive tests in day cares came from four different facilities. They include Oakhurst First Presbyterian Child Development Center, Morris Enrichment Center, Fort Hill Childhood Development Center and the National Guard Childhood Development Center. 

Those facilities may be able to reopen next week following proper cleaning, according to the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

Testing conducted at day cares is part of the governor’s reopening plan that began earlier this month, although plans to reopen some businesses has been slowed as of this week.

Justice’s reopening plan began with the stipulation that the state maintained a positive test rate under 3 percent for three consecutive days. State officials had set an earlier benchmark of having new cases decline for two weeks, but later pivoted to the lower standard.

State coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh has repeatedly said the state’s reopening may very well cause another spike in cases.

“We have seen some states that have had increases in cases and that’s related to the reopening process,” Marsh said.” And, as the governor said, we know as people come back out together, this virus has not left us.”

Marsh and other state officials have encouraged residents to wear masks or face coverings when out in public. He said the continued goal is to keep the transmissibility of the virus at a rate of less than 1 (meaning one person infecting no more than one other person). Marsh said the state’s transmissibility rate as of Tuesday evening was estimated to be 0.83, which has risen from a 0.74 rate recorded over the weekend.

“There may be times that we have to stop, or even go backwards or maybe even leave the dance floor for a little bit,” Marsh said of the state’s reopening plan and making note of the increase in recorded transmissibility.  

On Wednesday, Justice announced another executive order that mandates testing at all assisted living facilities and day cares.