Coronavirus Plan for WV that Justice Could Implement NOW

By: Stephen Smith, Candidate for WV Governor

Posted: March 15, 2020 | 07:40AM EST



What WV Can’t Wait For


West Virginians deserve a robust and swift response to the coronavirus to save lives, reduce suffering, and minimize the financial stress of working families and small businesses. 


Sign this petition NOW (click) to demand Justice implement this plan to save lives.


What We’re Up Against

The coronavirus is not like the flu: it is more deadly and spreads more quickly. There is no vaccine.


In West Virginia, we have the most at-risk population in the country.


As the coronavirus spreads, we will soon see our first documented cases. From there, cases will inevitably multiply. The actions we take right now will determine the degree to which our friends and neighbors suffer in the weeks ahead.


The threat of the virus is two-fold. First, those who are older or immunocompromised are at high risk for hospitalization. Second, because our healthcare system was not built to weather a surge of patients all at once, we risk overwhelming our medical infrastructure and not being able to provide patients with the care they need.


Furthermore, we have a responsibility to ensure that West Virginians of all ages have the resources they need to weather the hardships associated with bold, responsible action.


About the virus:


The virus has a median 5.1 day incubation period, so a person can come into contact with the virus one day and not feel the effects until days later. About 97.5% of people who get infected will develop symptoms within 11.5 days of exposure. The CDC says symptoms start between 2 to 14 days after exposure.


People can carry and spread the virus, but not have symptoms, especially younger people who are not immuno-compromised, and people who got sick and are recovering. The virus can live in a person’s respiratory tract for as many as 37 days (but it’s not clear how long someone might be infectious.)


The virus can be spread through the air (i.e. the breath or cough of someone who has it), and early studies show it remains viable in the air for about 3 hours.


The virus can spread from surfaces. Early studies of this virus show it remains viable on surfaces for up to 3 days, while older studies on similar viruses suggest a longer period of 9 days. Regular household disinfectants are effective.


Most people will feel bad for about a week and then recover, while others will worsen and can die.


Accompanying the risk of the virus is the risk of misinformation. That’s why we’ve created a webpage with clear and simple updates about the virus’ impact in West Virginia here.


Some of us are approaching this moment with fear, for ourselves and the most vulnerable. Others of us are spoiling for a fight, ready to roll up our sleeves. Still others are taking comfort in the logistics, the thousand tasks ahead to make sure we’re all safe. Let us be generous with each other; our neighbors may not be in the same spot as we are.


Our Plan


1. Make free, drive-thru testing available in every county. Increased access to testing is needed immediately. Isolating new and known cases is key to slowing the spread of the virus. Drive-thru testing is one proven way to prevent further spread of the virus while providing much needed lab results. All proven testing methods should be utilized, including swab testing and CT scans. Testing must also be free. We advocate any and all efforts to increase access to testing and expedite results


2. Follow the advice of doctors and err on the side of prevention. Doctors, not politicians, should direct our medical response. This may include allowing doctors to create symptom-thresholds by which to identify cases, rather than relying purely on swab test results (especially in cases where swab testing is unavailable or delayed). The state must also urge social distancing by shutting down fairs and festivals, casinos, and other large gatherings.


3. Permit no water, gas, internet, phone, or electricity shut-offs. Permit no evictions. WV American Water has already begun to implement a "no shut-offs" policy, and the Public Service Commission (PSC) has "urged" other public utilities to discontinue shut-offs. The PSC should outright bar any public utility from shutting off service during the crisis. Sheriffs should be directed not to execute any evictions.


4. Urge all public employees to work from home if they can (including school employees). Requiring public employees to report to work is a public danger. All public employees, including school employees, who can work from home should be required to do so. Social distancing has been one of the most effective tactics in places that have most effectively reduced the spread. Also see our full Broadband Plan to read about how we'll treat broadband as a public utility, which would allow more people to work effectively from home. We must also designate grocery employees and other essential workers as emergency responders, and make sure they receive all of the support that comes with that.


5. Continue to support the existing county-level response to a possible hunger crisis. Thanks to the efforts of county governments, teachers, churches, school service personnel, and restaurants, dozens of plans are in place to get food to children and seniors. Folks can learn more about resources in their area at our West Virginia cornonavirus resource page: wvcantwait.com/coronavirus.