Emily Allen Published

W.Va. To Test All College Students Weekly For COVID

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

College students in West Virginia will receive weekly coronavirus tests, according to a new plan announced Monday by Gov. Jim Justice.

It’s unclear when specifically the effort will begin other than sometime next year. Many students are already on winter break, as state health officials develop their plan.

According to data from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, young adults from 20 to 29 years old are testing positive for the coronavirus more than any other age group. However, they’re not the ones dying most often.

“For all practical purposes, the older people are the ones that are dying,” Justice said Monday. “The younger people may very well be running around carrying this like crazy and infecting our elderly, and we don’t even know it.”

Justice and state health officials for the DHHR said the state will take most of the responsibility when it comes to paying for and administering tests.

“We are working closely with the governor’s office, [West Virginia] National Guard and DHHR on spring semester testing plans,” said Jessica Tice, spokesperson for the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. Tice added that the WVHEPC “will be coordinating efforts across our colleges and universities as those plans are finalized.”

The state continues to practice surveillance testing in other sectors, including the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation and long-term care facilities, according to state public health officer Ayne Amjad.

Since March, the state has conducted more than 1.3 million tests, according to the DHHR, identifying more than 64,000 people with the virus.

West Virginia had identified nearly 1,200 new cases of the coronavirus within the last 24 hours on Monday morning. While thousands have recovered, the DHHR has reported nearly 980 COVID-related deaths.

Emily Allen is a Report for America corps member.