No time for business as usual in this crisis

The monumental incompetence with which West Virginia’s first known case of COVID-19 was handled ought to enrage everyone in our state. Those with the power to keep it from happening again ought to be livid — and determined to get it right the next time.

There will be a next time. We know that.

On Tuesday evening, Gov. Jim Justice reported that after several days in which ours was the only state without a confirmed case of COVID-19, a patient had been diagnosed in the Eastern Panhandle.

By Wednesday morning, it was learned the patient is James Vigil, of Shepherdstown. That became known because his wife, Carolyn, talked to the press out of concern mistakes made with her husband would be repeated, possibly putting people’s lives at risk.

If you have not read her story yet, go to page one and look at it. In all likelihood, your reaction was either head-shaking resignation or table-pounding anger — or both.

We should be outraged. But resignation to what appear to be bureaucratic foul-ups is not acceptable in this situation. Again, lives are at risk.

Mr. Vigil was tested for COVID-19 last Friday. Officials said he and Mrs. Vigil were told they would be notified of the results.

Days passed with no contact. At one point, Mrs. Vigil was told the test results had been lost. Then, she was told the test was “unviable” — unusable. Then, on Tuesday, state Health Officer Catherline Slemp called her. Slemp seemed surprised Mrs. Vigil had not been told her husband tested positive.

“I won’t say it was a circle of misinformation,” Mrs. Vigil told The Journal, in Martinsburg. “It was a circle of no information,” she added.

Bureaucratic business as usual, in other words.

No, no, NO! This kind of incompetence can kill people.

At a time when West Virginians should be in an all-hands-on-deck posture to save lives, shoddiness cannot be tolerated.

Period. We have to get this right.


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