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COVID-19: It’s up to us to keep outbreak contained

As the process of “reopening” America picks up speed, some states are reporting disturbing upswings in COVID-19 activity. Thus far, the signs remain good in West Virginia — but we have to be ready for a change.

Generalizations can be risky, but West Virginians have grown accustomed to one phenomenon. When something is happening in other states, we may lag behind, but eventually that something will happen here, too.

So it was with the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. For a significant amount of time after the disease reached epidemic stage elsewhere, we had not recorded a single case. That has changed — though it is important to note the full force of the disease never seems to have hit the Mountain State. The 86 coronavirus deaths recorded by Friday, though tragic, were a minor toll compared to what happened in some other states.

During their daily press briefing Thursday, Gov. Jim Justice and state coronavirus coordinator Dr. Clay Marsh were optimistic, but only cautiously.

“Because our numbers are phenomenal doesn’t mean there can’t be issues tomorrow in West Virginia,” Justice warned.

Marsh agreed, “We have been very much at the top of our game … (but) we, just like every other state, are at risk of seeing that spread increase.”

Indeed, by Friday there was a blip in the COVID-19 line graph. After several days in which widespread testing showed positive rates of less than 1 percent, the number had gone up to 1.3 percent by week’s end.

Public health officials in many states would pop open the champagne at hearing such a number. By itself, it is not bad news.

But if the rate of infections continues on an upward trend, it could be a problem.

How do we avoid that? You already know: social distancing, face masks, frequent hand washing, etc.

Keeping COVID-19 contained is vital. Justice was right last week when he advised his fellow West Virginians simply, “It’s all up to you.”

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