State’s COVID-19 updates must be accurate
After a relatively slow start, COVID-19 in West Virginia appears to be taking the same course it has elsewhere, of the infection spreading rapidly and broadly. Mountain State residents need reliable information on how deeply the virus has penetrated into our communities.
Not having that information increases the potential for both panic and apathy. Rumors spread by social media of massive local outbreaks can cause, among other things, hoarding of items that may cause the most vulnerable among us to run short of them. Not understanding that the virus is present locally may prompt some to ignore precautions we all should be following.
Lack of current, reliable information is a double-edged sword.
At one point Wednesday, the state’s COVID-19 website (dhhr.wv.gov/COVID-19) reported 39 confirmed cases of the disease in West Virginia. Yet there were far more.
State Department of Health and Human Resources personnel update the count on the website once a day, during the evening. Beginning Friday, that was to go to three times a day. Plans are to include more information on the website.
That is a good start. But going forward — as rapidly as possible — the website should be refreshed hourly, at least during the time period most people may be checking it. The closer to real time state officials can get, the more useful the website will be.
Until this week, we knew COVID-19 was a threat. Now, the wolf is at our door — broadly speaking. West Virginians need to know how near the monster is to the doors of our own homes.