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Overcome Bumps In Recovery Road

It may be that Gov. Jim Justice and his public health advisers spent much of the Memorial Day weekend with their fingers crossed. West Virginians were being tested in our move to recover both economically and socially from the COVID-19 epidemic.

Human beings are creatures of habit. For many of us, Memorial Day weekend is the signal to begin enjoying summer. It also is a time when we visit family members, have friends over for holiday cook-outs and engage in any number of behaviors that are conducive to spreading highly communicable diseases.

Couple that with a new stage in easing restrictions on businesses — restaurants are now permitted to serve customers inside — and the potential hazard of the long holiday weekend was clear.

Our guess is that within a few days, public health statisticians will record a spike in confirmed cases of COVID-19. The question is how serious the surge will be. Then follows the matter of what to do about it.

West Virginia entered the holiday weekend in extraordinarily better shape than many other states. Nearly two-thirds of those who had contracted the disease during the past few months had recovered from it. Here in the Northern Panhandle, the recovery rate topped 85%. Statewide, the percentage of new tests resulting in positive results remained quite low.

It would be nearly inconceivable for the numbers not to get worse as a result of the situation during the Memorial Day weekend. We should know within a week or so.

Unless the numbers are dramatically negative, Justice and public health officials should not reverse their strategy of getting the economy back in gear — certainly not statewide. It may be that some areas demonstrate a need to tighten the reins a bit, but that should not be permitted to set the entire state back.

West Virginians need to recover both physically and financially from the coronavirus. We knew there would be bumps in that road. We cannot afford to let them throw us back into the ditch.

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