Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in West Virginia, US, order visitors from several locations to isolate, maintain movement restrictions until at least late April.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Charleston, West Virginia
  • Huntington, West Virginia
  • Beckley, West Virginia
  • Parkersburg, West Virginia
  • Clarksburg, West Virginia
  • Morgantown, West Virginia
  • Wheeling, West Virginia

This alert began 02 Apr 2020 12:41 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): West Virginia (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and movement restrictions, significant transport and business disruptions

Summary
West Virginia Governor James Justice ordered visitors entering the state from several locations to self-quarantine for 14 days since the moment they enter West Virginia as part of the state's efforts to combat coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The order, which is in force since March 31 until further notice, requires visitors who have been in New York, Louisiana, Connecticut, New Jersey, Italy, or China in the 14 days previous to their entry in West Virginia to self-quarantine for 14 days due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in those places. Authorities may include other states or countries to the list in the coming days. The measure will not apply to any commercial activity, including truckers or people who move in and out of the state for work purposes. Officials also ordered the closure of all campgrounds in state parks indefinitely to reduce the number of visitors.

Authorities in West Virginia have ordered residents to stay in their homes except to perform essential activities, and nonessential businesses to close, since March 24, to combat the spread of COVID-19. Under the order, outdoor activities such as walking are permitted on the condition that those engaged in such activities stay at least six feet from all other people. Essential businesses and services, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, fuel stations, healthcare facilities, security, transport, and energy companies, are allowed to continue operations.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will almost certainly deploy additional security personnel to assist in enforcing the measure. Officials could amend the order on short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by West Virginia authorities are similar to actions adopted by other governments in the US and globally in recent weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
WHO Coronavirus Knowledge Base: www.who.int

West Virginia - COVID-19 Updates: https://dhhr.wv.gov/COVID-19

West Virginia Order for Visitors to Self-Quarantine: https://governor.wv.gov/Documents/SGovernor

West Virginia Stay-at-Home Order: https://governor.wv.gov/Documents