Demand for science-based COVID policies to keep WV safe

Governor Jim Justice

More West Virginians are dying every month from COVID19 than died by homicide in the entire year of 2019. Our monthly death toll from COVID19 has increased so rapidly that it is now on track to exceed drug overdose deaths.

Rational, humane, science-based COVID policies can protect West Virginians. Urgent, strong government action is required.

West Virginia Working Families Party, WV United Caucus, and other community groups and citizens have come together to demand that our leaders use scientifically sound, rational policies to protect public health and serve the public good.

Individuals, business owners, and organizations are all invited to sign. Join us in telling Governor Justice to put the health of West Virginians first!

To: Governor Jim Justice
From: [Your Name]

We, the undersigned, petition Governor Jim Justice, all elected officials throughout West Virginia, and all boards of health in West Virginia to adopt the following science-based COVID policies to protect West Virginians.

Honest Data

1. For all COVID data used for COVID related restrictions including school closures, use the “Harvard Map” without manipulating the data.

2. For all COVID data used for COVID related restrictions including school closures, count every person in West Virginia as a full person. Students, nursing home residents, prisoners and all other human beings must be counted, regardless of where they live.

3. Count "probable" cases as "confirmed" cases until and unless they have been disproven by a PCR test.

Right to Know

4. Provide the public daily, accurate, timely updates on ICU bed availability in individual hospitals and overall throughout West Virginia.

5. Provide the public daily, accurate, timely updates on school-related COVID-19 cases in each individual public school.

6. Notify parents and school staff members directly of a COVID-19 positive or COVID-19 probable case in their school as soon as possible and no later than within 24 hours of discovery of the exposure.

7. Notify parents and school staff members with direct notification of a suspected or actual close contact exposure to a COVID-19 positive or COVID-19 probable person as soon as possible and no later than within 12 hours of discovery of the exposure.

8. Notify health care workers of possible exposure as soon as possible and no later than within 12 hours of the discovery of the exposure.

9. Professionalize contact tracing in all counties by employing professionally-trained, living-wage-paid contact tracers using sound, standardized, contact tracing procedures and providing quarantine & isolation recommendations that are aligned with the CDC recommendations. Monitor and audit contract tracing to ensure compliance with best practices and rapid corrections of errors.

Fix the Mandates. Follow the Guidelines.

10. Enhance and enforce the mask mandate. Require proper mask wearing covering nose and mouth. Expand mask mandate to include all people 2 years of age and older (with very limited health exceptions, per a doctor’s note), as suggested by CDC guidelines. Businesses must ensure all employees and indoors patrons properly wear a face covering. As feasible, businesses may provide alternatives such as curbside service and personal shopping for customers legally exempt from the mandate.

11. An updated mandate should explicitly and thoroughly establish public health mandates in accordance with CDC guidelines. Gov. Dewine’s updated mandate in Ohio is an excellent model.

12. Close indoor dining, bars and other high-risk, non-essential businesses. Invest CARES Act funding to provide economic relief to impacted employees and businesses.

13. Establish and enforce effective penalties for individuals and businesses that violate COVID-19 safety regulations.

14. Call the legislature into a special session to draft effective, enforceable COVID safety legislation if the Governor does not have the power to implement effective controls.

15. Provide a state-wide reporting hotline for citizens to report violations of the mask mandate, COVID cases in schools, and other COVID guidelines & provide an enforcement mechanism to enforce the mandate(s) promptly when violations are reported. Track all reports, publicly share summary data on a daily basis, and provide callers with a way to track the outcome of their call.

Protect Public Employees

16. Provide sufficient quantities of cleaning supplies, disinfectants, PPE, and paid time to sanitize to ensure their ability to comply with CDC guidelines to all school staff members.

17. Ensure protection of whistle-blowers. School employees and other public employees including health care personnel must be ensured protection from disciplinary action for sharing factual information and personal opinions related to COVID-19. Reverse all negative employment actions related to COVID-19 whistle-blowing reports.

18. Ensure paid leave for all state employees who are exposed to COVID-19 are provided during all medically necessary leave due to COVID exposure on the job or elsewhere.

Economic Relief

19. Invest CARES Act funding immediately and appropriately by providing citizens with PPE, assisting small businesses with becoming safer, and enhanced funding for SNAP, unemployment, and other anti-poverty programs, targeting assistance to lower to middle income families, especially those with school age children at home.

20. Enable SNAP recipients to receive their benefits without shopping in person.