State should provide lab funding if needed
West Virginians suspected of having contracted COVID-19 — the “coronavirus” — will have their tests processed in Charleston, rather than by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gov. Jim Justice revealed.
Justice said state testing will be conducted at the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Public Health Laboratory. That will allow officials “to respond even faster” if COVID-19 cases are identified in West Virginia, the governor said.
It should speed up state efforts against the disease, if it comes here. But equipment and personnel at the state lab could be a weak link.
If they are not capable of handling a crush of COVID-19 tests, state officials should provide supplementary funding for the lab. COVID-19 is viewed by many as a serious threat. West Virginians should not have to endure delays in finding out whether the virus has come to our state.
For a few days last week, West Virginia legislators had planned to balance the state budget for next year by reducing some line items sought by Gov. Jim Justice. One cut was $5 million from the state Tourism Office.
Ironically, as that cutting was going on, Justice and tourism officials were unveiling the new printed vacation guide to West Virginia. More than 150,000 of them will be available (if you want one, go to the wvtourism.com website).
Money spent on promoting tourism boosts the state’s economy. In turn, that generates more revenue for state government. The $5 million Tourism Office cut would have had detrimental effects.
We understand entirely the dilemma legislative budget-writers encounter. The budget has to be balanced. Certain programs must be funded.
By Saturday, however, legislators had found ways to avoid some of the previously planned reductions. They added $4 million back into the budget for tourism. That was a wise move, for which lawmakers are to be commended.