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Coronavirus Update: W.Va. Coronavirus Czar raises concern as key WV COVID-19 metric trends upward

By Phil Kabler, Charleston Gazette-Mail

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Two days after Gov. Jim Justice pumped the brakes on a six-week plan to bring much of West Virginia back online, COVID 19 czar Dr. Clay Marsh said Wednesday he is concerned the virus might be escalating anew.

“We’re starting to see the potential that maybe the spread of the virus is starting again in the state,” Marsh said during the daily state COVID-19 briefing.

What’s known as an R0 (pronounced R-naught) measures how contagious the virus is. Over the weekend, West Virginia had an R0 of 0.74 — the lowest in the United States — meaning that one infected individual will infect fewer than one other person, a level that will effectively stop the spread of the virus.

Marsh said that metric crept up to 0.76 on Monday, 0.83 on Tuesday and 0.9 on Wednesday.

Marsh, who also is vice president of health sciences at West Virginia University, said that presumably means many West Virginians are not adhering to stay-at-home and social distancing requirements as well as they did initially.

Dr. Clay Marsh

“The increase in the R0 value may represent a lesser concern or less-consistent behavior for people in avoiding each other, staying at home or maintaining physical distancing,” he said.

Given the seven- to 14-day incubation period for the coronavirus, the upturn in R0 value is likely not being driven by the gradual reopening of businesses in the state, now in its second week, but people having a false sense that the worst of the pandemic is over, Marsh said. …

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