By Sarah Richardson
According to a new analysis released by Finder.com, West Virginia was found to have ranked best out of all 50 states for a timely response to the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Jim Justice was preemptive in declaring a state of emergency on March 16, one day before the confirmation of a COVID-19 case in the state. However, schools were closed days before that in an attempt to “flatten the curve.”
To determine a state’s response time, Finder.com analyzed six key metrics that include when the state saw its first confirmed case of COVID-19, when the state declared a state of emergency and when the state issued a stay-at-home order.
“How fast a government reacts in a time of crisis can mean the difference between life and death,” says Finder’s release. “And this has been highlighted by the differing approaches to the COVID-19 outbreak not only around our nation but the rest of the globe.” It adds, “While you might rightly point out that West Virginia is a state struck later than the others by COVID-19, it outperformed other states like Nebraska, which saw its first confirmed case on the same day as West Virginia.”
“It just came out the other day and, of all things, it should maybe be the thing we’re most proud of,” Governor Justice said of the study. “West Virginia was recognized for being first in the nation in the way that we have handled this thus far. And we need to continue to be first in the nation on how we decide to bring our people back as quickly and safely as we possibly can.”
On Thursday, Gov. Justice also recognized the West Virginia National Guard for becoming the first National Guard in the country to be approved by the U.S. Department of Defense to provide mobile testing for COVID-19.
The WVNG established two COVID-19 mobile testing laboratories, which were activated for use earlier this week. The units will be primarily stationed in Charleston and Morgantown.
The process for deploying the mobile testing units starts at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, which will alert the National Guard for the need of a rapid testing response in a particular area. From there, the National Guard will deploy one of the two mobile units within 45 minutes of receiving notification.
This comes just days after West Virginia became the first state in the country to begin testing all nursing home residents and staff members statewide.
Justice also announced that recent testing of 120 people at the veteran’s nursing home in Barboursville resulted in just one positive case. The proactive testing allowed officials to move quickly in efforts to limit the spread.
The state remains under a “stay at home order” for the foreseeable future as case numbers slowly but surely continue to rise. According to the Department of Health and Human Resources, as of Thursday, April 23, Greenbrier County has three confirmed cases, Monroe County has five, and Pocahontas County has none. There are over 900 cases throughout the state, with 26 reported deaths.