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Gov. Justice announces adjustments to West Virginia School Re-entry Metrics and Protocols

CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia health leaders and other officials today for his latest daily press briefing regarding the State’s COVID-19 response.

During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that, after consulting with state medical experts over the weekend, the determination has been made to modify the School Re-entry Metric – the color-coded map system that will determine the level of openness for each Pre-K-12 school in West Virginia – originally announced on Friday.

“We listened to the experts and we came up with something that was revolutionary; something that no one in the nation has come up with: our color coding system,” Gov. Justice said. “We also said, along the way, we would listen and be fluid. We’ve stayed in contact and we decided that we needed to pivot just a little bit.”

The metric will still be based on each county’s number of new daily cases per 100,000 people on a seven-day rolling average. Based on that figure, each county will still be assigned one of four colors – green, yellow, orange, or red – which is meant to represent the severity of the rate of community spread.

However, Gov. Justice announced on Monday that several of the thresholds that determine each county’s color have been changed.

The updated thresholds are as follows:

GREEN: 3 and fewer cases per 100,000
YELLOW: 3.1 – 9.9 cases per 100,000
ORANGE: 10 – 24.9 cases per 100,000
RED: 25+ cases per 100,000
*New daily cases per 100,000 people on a seven-day rolling average

The color-coded map, tracking each county’s performance in the metric and associated color status, has been updated to reflect these changes. 

In the event of an outbreak within a contained location, such as a correctional facility, nursing home, etc., all positive inmates/residents will still count as one positive incidence toward the metric since they will remain within a confined environment and unable to contribute to community spread. However, the number of positive staff members will now each count as one full positive incidence toward the school metric, since these individuals would be potentially able to contribute to community spread outside of the facility.

“I think this is where we have really become innovative,” said West Virginia Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh, comparing West Virginia’s school metric to the Harvard Global Health Institute’s COVID Risk Level Model, which served as the original inspiration for the school metric.

“The Harvard model counts people that are both spreading in the community and spreading in these congregate settings, like nursing homes and prisons, as equal,” Dr. Marsh continued. “We have basically decided that we’re really trying to focus on just the community spread.

“That is actually, to me, a real innovation from the Harvard model, particularly when it comes to opening schools and and looking at other community-based activities.”

Unless amended above, all other parts of the original plan announced Friday remain unchanged.