Common sense suggests that Gov. Jim Justice is right about one weapon against COVID-19 that he touted recently.
Kanawha County has been a particular headache for the governor for several weeks. COVID-19’s penetration there has kept schools closed, even as students in most other counties were being welcomed back into their classrooms. But by the end of last week, significant progress had been made in reducing the threat.
During his daily press conference on Friday, Justice gave at least part of the credit for that to a crash program of testing Kanawha County residents for the disease. During the previous week, tests had identified 85 people who were carrying the virus. Most apparently were asymptomatic, meaning they were suffering few, if any, ill effects from the virus.
But as the governor pointed out, they were carrying COVID-19 — and probably infecting other people in their county.
“We could never have identified those 85 spreaders if we hadn’t aggressively tested,” Justice said, adding the campaign may have been West Virginia’s “finest hour” during the epidemic.
Related news came last Wednesday, when state officials announced colleges in the state are being given enough test kits to screen 10% of their students and staff. With concern about asymptomatic young people communicating the disease, that may have the same effect on campuses as it did in Kanawha County.
COVID-19 tests are available widely in West Virginia. We carry announcements frequently of testing available to any local resident who wants to take advantage.
The Kanawha County experience — assuming it continues to pay dividends in the form of lower infection rates — is convincing. It leads us to encourage area residents who think there may be a chance, no matter how small, that they have come in contact with a COVID-19 carrier to consider getting tested. Again, even if you experience no symptoms, you may be carrying the virus.
Need more persuasion? President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19 last week. Other than fatigue, it appears he had displayed few symptoms.