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W.Va. leaders crafting guidelines for outbreak response at day care centers

BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) For every step forward in the COVID-19 crisis, there always seems to be a couple steps back.

After the Governor ordered the testing of all day care workers in the state, four have already temporarily shut down due to positive cases.

So what's the plan to keep child care facilities safe? Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango says more testing.

"We need to make sure we're testing all of our front line workers and day care workers. And we need to make sure that we're testing them repeatedly."

To date, less than one percent of the state's cases are children under the age of nine, with no fatalities reported in that age group. Study after study by the CDC, Yale, and others continues to show that the symptoms in children without pre-existing conditions are milder than those of adults.

But they are still often silent carriers who bring a big risk to those around them, including the large number of grandparents raising them.

Dr. Cathy Slemp with the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health said the state is working to refine guidelines for day care facilities with positive cases. She said the first step would be to shut down for cleaning.

"We got their input yesterday and are working to refine recommendations for them," said Dr. Slemp, during Gov. Justice's Friday press conference.

The Raleigh County Community Action Association oversees three different Head Start locations with operations in several other daycare facilities. Exec. Dir. Ron Cantley is already working on an action plan to minimize the risk.

"We're talking about alternate days. We're talking about discreet, segregated areas of the building on those alternate days, restricted travel patterns. We're also talking about bringing the food to kids so we don't congregate in the cafeteria."

Cantley said he has received guidance from leadership to move from a community response to case-by-case response focused on contact tracing. It's a void in the community he believes his agency could fill.

"Right now, nobody is geared up to do contact tracing at the level that it needs to be done. If we could get the training and funding, I think we could step up and fill that void. But there's other entities that can do it as well."

Annie Moore

Multimedia Journalist

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