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West Virginia officials urge calm as virus cluster develops in Eastern Panhandle

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West Virginia officials urge calm as virus cluster develops in Eastern Panhandle

CHARLESTON — As the number of positive coronavirus cases jumped in the Eastern Panhandle, Gov. Jim Justice and state officials Friday sought to calm the nerves of the public.

According to numbers released by the Department of Health and Human Resources Friday morning, there are now 237 cases of the coronavirus in West Virginia — an increase by 20 from Thursday afternoon. Half of those cases are in Berkeley County, which increased from 27 cases Thursday to 37 cases Friday.

Justice, speaking during Friday’s virtual coronavirus briefing, said the cluster of cases in the Eastern Panhandle was not unexpected due to its geographical location so close to population centers in Virginia and Maryland.

“We’ve anticipated this,” Justice said. “Anything that is really close to a major city like the Eastern Panhandle is just in the backdoor of Washington, D.C. We’ve been on it. We’ve been concerned about it. We’re not going to be just a state that is left out of this virus and this terrible pandemic. We’re going to have issues and we’re going to have to deal with them.”

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The state has tested 6,367 residents for the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, with only 3.72 percent of cases coming back positive. Dr. Clay Marsh, the state coronavirus czar, said there was no need to be alarmed by the increase of positive cases in Berkeley County.

“We knew that nobody was going to escape this pandemic without having people who will get sick,” Marsh said. “We want to reassure people that most folks who get the virus will get better and may have flu-like symptoms. If you are located in the Eastern Panhandle […]

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