Kanawha County is the latest to advance in the state’s color-coded map for community coronavirus spread in counties.
It moved into the orange zone from 9.7 average daily cases per 100,000 people on a rolling 7-day average Sunday, to nearly 12 on Tuesday.
“Nobody said this was going to be easy, and nobody ever said a pandemic would not be something that would be very difficult for all of us to deal with it,” Gov. Jim Justice said during a regularly scheduled, virtual press briefing Wednesday. “And we’re doing it and we’re doing a great job, but we got to get these counties out of orange. That’s for sure.”
Logan and Monroe counties were also in orange on the state’s color-coded map for community spread. That means state officials have tracked 10 to 24.9 daily cases in these counties per 100,000 people, either on the 7-day rolling average or a 14-day rolling average for counties with less than 16,000 people.
The state is using the map for school reopenings after the first day of in-person classes begins Sept. 8. The map also applies to after-school activities like sports and rules for nursing home visits and group activities.
If school was already in session, being in the orange zone on the map for Kanawha and the other two counties would mean mandatory face coverings for students in the third grade and older, no large group assemblies and a more concerted effort from local health and school officials to mitigate further disease spread.
For any county in the red, with more than 25 daily average cases per 100,000 people – this was Logan county until Tuesday – in-person classes would be suspended.
In all three orange counties and others currently marked yellow or green, the state was on Wednesday tracking 39 outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. It was also monitoring 29 active cases of COVID-19 across four churches and more than 20 positive coronavirus results among prisoners at the Mount Olive Correctional Center in Fayette County.
Outbreaks in state jails, prisons and nursing homes only count as one person in the state’s color-coded map for community spread, except for infected employees, who the governor’s office said on Aug. 17 will count as whole individuals. State health officials have said this is because they fear outbreaks in congregant settings will skew results.
The map has been revised and tweaked at least twice since state officials first introduced it on Aug. 14. A similar, more stringent color-coded map from the Harvard Global Health Institute shows Monroe and Logan counties in the red.
West Virginia has had more than 9,500 cases of COVID-19 since March. More than 1,700 cases are still active, and there were 190 deaths from the coronavirus by Wednesday.
Emily Allen is a Report for America corps member.