As of Oct. 21, authorities in West Virginia are implementing gathering restrictions in 13 of the state's 55 counties due to an increase in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Authorities continue to utilize a five-tier, color-based county alert system, depending on the levels of COVID-19 activity in each jurisdiction, to determine school operating status and implement some restrictions. The system goes from green, the lowest level of COVID-19 activity, to red, the highest level of COVID-19 activity.
As of Oct. 21, counties under the red, yellow, or gold levels of the county alert system must decrease the maximum gathering size from 25 to 10 people. Doddridge and Wyoming counties are at the red level; Berkeley, Mingo, Morgan, Randolph, Upshur, and Wirt are at the orange level; and Gilmer, Jefferson, Marshall, Pendleton, and Wood counties are at the gold level.
Otherwise, authorities in West Virginia have maintained other previously imposed restrictions. All residents over the age of eight must wear protective facemasks whenever they are in indoor public settings and social distancing cannot be maintained. Officials maintain an order to cancel all fairs, festivals, and concerts in the state, both indoors and outdoors, and maintain a ban on social gatherings of more than 25 people in the rest of the state. Outdoor live music performances may occur at 25-percent of the venue's capacity or 250 people, whichever is less. This limit does not apply to businesses or certain events such as religious ceremonies, weddings, or conferences.
Most nonessential businesses and other facilities, including casinos, movie theaters, bars, restaurants, barbershops, hair salons, gyms, and amusement parks, can operate. All establishments that reopen are required to comply with certain mandates aimed at preventing further spread of the virus, including directives on enhanced sanitization procedures, use of personal protective equipment, and social distancing guidelines.
All residents - especially senior citizens and persons with compromised immune systems - are still encouraged to remain home to the extent possible.
Authorities could reimpose, tighten, or otherwise amend restrictions over the coming weeks, should any spike in disease activity occur.
Heed the directives of the authorities. Continue to 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 disposable tissues, 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.