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Open Letter to West Virginians from WV Healthcare Leaders: We Trust the COVID-19 Vaccine 12/14/2020

Click here to view the letter.

Governor Jim Justice COVID-19 Executive Orders

Click here to view the executive orders referencing COVID-19. 


Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Other coronaviruses commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold, while others cause more severe disease.  This new coronavirus is novel because it has not been previously been seen in humans. 



COVID-19 is the name of the new respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus that was first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China in December 2019.  COVID-19 spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when a person coughs or sneezes.  You are most at risk of catching COVID-19 when you are in close contact with an infected person (within six feet), but it is also possible to get COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your own mouth, nose, or eyes.



There is still much to learn about the virus that causes COVID-19, but there are basic precautions you take to prevent infection:
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Limit hand shaking and hugging.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, including work areas.
  • Limit your attendance at large gatherings and if you are in a high-risk group stay home.
  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get necessary medical care.
Additionally, it is important that we all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing. On March 23, Governor Justice issued a stay at home order for all West Virginians, which began at 8:00 p.m. on March 24 and limits the movement of people outside their homes beyond essential needs.  The Governor’s Office has provided a summary of the Stay at Home Order.
By following federal and state recommendations for social distancing we are helping to slow the spread of this disease in our communities and protecting the most vulnerable among us.  This is especially critical in West Virginia with our older population and high incidence of conditions that make people particularly susceptible to more severe cases of COVID-19.  By slowing the spread we flatten the curve, which reduces the number of people who are sick at the same time, preventing a surge that would overwhelm the healthcare system.



Patients with COVID-19 have mild to severe respiratory illness.  According the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) the most common symptoms are:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea.  Symptoms usually begin gradually, unlike the flu which comes on suddenly.
From what we know most people infected with COVID-19 will not become seriously ill and will not need hospitalization.  However, some people, particularly older adults and those with serious underlying conditions, may need hospital care, including respiratory support.  Additionally, even those people with mild symptoms can spread the disease making it important for people to stay home when sick unless seeking appropriate medical care.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has established an informational hotline - 1-800-887-4304 - to address questions and concerns about COVID-19.  The toll-free hotline is available 24/7 to provide accurate information about COVID-19.



If you are sick with COVID-19 or believe that you are, you should take steps to help prevent the spread of the disease in your home and community.
Most cases of COVID-19 cause mild disease and can be managed at home.  Hospital care, including the emergency department, is a resource that should be reserved for those with the most serious symptoms.
If you sick with a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, including cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread call your healthcare provider before you seek treatment.
The CDC recommends that older patients and individuals who have severe underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their healthcare provider early, even if their illness is mild.
If you are very sick, with high fever, shortness of breath or more severe or worsening respiratory symptoms, and you or your provider feel you need to go the ER, make sure you or your provider call ahead to let the ER know you have respiratory symptoms so they can prepare for your arrival. 
If you are having an emergency, call 9-1-1.  Emergency warning signs* include:
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive.   Please contact your medical provider if you have any severe or concerning symptoms.
Your healthcare provider will work with your public health department, state health department, and the CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19.