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W.Va. governor calls for easing restrictions

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice pushed to ease coronavirus restrictions on hospitals even as state officials sent mixed messages about West Virginia’s testing capacity.

The Republican governor said he will allow hospitals to begin performing elective procedures if the facilities meet an unspecified set of criteria, saying it would be the first step to restarting the economy.

Clay Marsh, a West Virginia University health official tapped as the state’s coronavirus czar, and Bill Crouch, secretary of the state health department, said new facilities are beginning to test and that the state has partnered with LabCorp, a major lab testing company.

Marsh, who on Friday said the state could do up to 3,000 tests a week, offered dramatically different figures Monday, some in contradiction with numbers he had said minutes prior. First, he said the state could do between 4,000 to 6,500 tests in a day. Moments later, he said, “so currently we do about 2,500 tests a day, 17,000 a week, our potential in-state is 4,566 a day and 31,900 a week, and that’s not with LabCorp.”

There have only been 22,357 tests done so far statewide since the outbreak began, according to health officials. The death toll has jumped from 16 people on Friday to 26 people on Monday. At least 908 people have tested positive for the virus.