As West Virginia begins to reopen based on Gov. Jim Justice’s West Virginia Strong: The Comeback, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bureau for Public Health has developed a data-driven plan to identify areas experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases.
“As West Virginians begin to re-engage in activities, increased surveillance and early identification of areas with increasing COVID-19 cases are critical to protecting the health of all residents,” said Dr. Cathy Slemp, Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health and State Health Officer.
A rise in cases will trigger rapid assessment and guide action based on a seven-day rolling sum of new, non-outbreak associated cases based on population size. DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health will examine additional data and undertake a rapid joint assessment with the county.
Following the rapid assessment and examination of data that suggest an increase in community transmission, the county may be designated by Gov. Justice with the status of High Alert. Depending on the individual county circumstances, action plans will include providing or assigning needed resource supports and/or strongly reinforcing or potentially increasing community mitigation measures.
Once on the heightened alert list, a county will stay on it until a consistent decrease in community spread of COVID-19 is seen. Removal from the alert list will be based on data and in collaboration with the local health department.
“This approach will provide a consistent way to allow West Virginia to return to work while ensuring that we are monitoring for and taking aggressive steps to prevent the resurgence of the virus,” added Dr. Slemp.