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Mountain State announces new testing partnerships

Submitted photo Gov. Jim Justice and state health officials announced that the Department of Health and Human Resources is partnering with Walgreens and Fruth Pharmacy to offer free COVID-19 testing.

CHARLESTON — Despite some positive signs at the beginning of the week, West Virginia is still seeing a higher number of new COVID-19 cases. But a new testing partnership with local pharmacies could see more testing opportunities.

Gov. Jim Justice and state health officials announced that the Department of Health and Human Resources is partnering with Walgreens and Fruth Pharmacy to offer free COVID-19 testing. The funding for the tests would come from DHHR, but the partnership will help expand the availability of testing.

“We have partnered with Walgreens to make our COVID-19 testing available at their drive-thru locations starting today,” Justice said.

The free drive-thru testing will be offered at 16 Walgreens locations in Boone, Cabell, Fayette, Kanawha, Logan, Monongalia, Putnam, and Raleigh counties. Those interested will need to call their local Walgreens and make an appointment with the pharmacy. Fruth Pharmacy will offer free testing as 12 locations in Jackson, Wood, Roane, Cabell, Mason, Putnam counties. Locations can be found at coronavirus.wv.gov by clicking on the “Free Testing” button.

“Over the next several weeks, more locations will be added across West Virginia,” Justice said. “It’s just another way for West Virginians to get tested and stop the spread of this terrible virus, so take advantage of this. You have a lot of great work by our DHHR and health departments all over the place, from the National Guard and right on down, trying to make it simpler to go get tested. We need you to go get tested.”

DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch said that he was working to get other pharmacies on board to offer COVID-19 and expand options for people.

“We’re trying to bring everyone online to bring free testing for the state,” Crouch said. “That funding is coming through DHHR. We want to make testing available everywhere and in every county every day, so this is a good move.”

According to the DHHR coronavirus dashboard, the number of active COVID-19 cases jumped to 4,435 on Thursday. That’s after active cases dipped to 4,256 on Wednesday from 4,330 on Monday – the first dip in active cases since the summer.

DHHR reported receiving 7,993 test results Thursday, which was the second highest day for test results since 9,909 on Oct. 1. But the number of positive tests from that batch was 292, bringing the daily percent of positive cases to 3.65 percent and sending the cumulative percent of positive cases to 2.79 percent. DHHR identified 382 new cases received in a 24-hour period between Thursday and Wednesday.

West Virginia’s Rt value – the measure of how much the virus is spreading or slowing in a community – was starting to trend back in the wrong direction Friday. The state spent most of the week with the second best Rt value in the nation. But as of Friday, West Virginia’s Rt value was 0.94, slipping to the fifth best. Any Rt number above 1 means the virus is spreading, while numbers below 1 mean the virus is slowing.

Deaths were also up for the first time since Sept. 29, with six deaths reported by DHHR Friday. Deaths include a 74-year-old woman from Kanawha County, a 64-year-old man from Cabell County, a 70-year-old woman from Logan County, a 65-year-old man from Wayne County, a 68-year-old woman from Jackson County, and a 61-year-old woman from Fayette County.

Several counties have also moved into the orange categories this week, possibly meaning schools won’t be able to re-open in those counties if their color stays the same by tonight at 5 p.m. when the Department of Education releases their version of the County Alert System map. Doddridge County moved from the gold to orange, as did, Cabell, and Logan counties. Jackson, Randolph, and Barbour counties moved from yellow to gold.

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