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Legislature Opening (copy)

House Speaker Roger Hanshaw gavels in the 2022 Legislative Session Wednesday. Hanshaw left the state Capitol Thursday morning after he began experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is doing “100% better today than yesterday” after being diagnosed with COVID-19 late Tuesday, according to his chief of staff, Brian Abraham.

The governor, who received monoclonal antibody treatments to stop progression of his illness on Wednesday, is still recuperating at his home in Greenbrier County. Abraham said he is “champing at the bit” to get back to the Capitol.

“You can still sense the tiredness in his voice, but he wants to be back in person. He’s wanting to come to work and is frustrated just sitting there. Of course, the medical folks said that wasn’t a good idea yet, and he’s listening to them, but we’re still talking about every half hour,” Abraham said. “The [monoclonal] antibody treatments really turned things around for him, and thank goodness for that.”

Monoclonal antibody treatments are administered to help people who are at risk of seeing their infections clinically progress to more severe ones, which could necessitate hospitalization and more care.

Some of the most common risk factors for clinical progression are age and body mass index. Justice, 70, is fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19. As he is older and of larger stature, Justice could have been at higher risk for more serious illness.

Abraham said Justice and the medical professionals overseeing his treatment believe being vaccinated saved his life.

“They [the doctors] and he personally believe that, without those vaccines and the booster, well, he would not be in the same situation that he is in today, which is getting better by the minute,” Abraham said.

Abraham said the doctors will consult with the governor to see when he can “come out of quarantine,” although Justice is hoping it will be by “early next week.”

According to guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who test positive for COVID-19 and are symptomatic — no matter vaccination status — should isolate themselves in their homes for at least five days. If they’re around other people, they should wear a “well-fitted mask” to prevent transmission of the virus.

People can leave isolation five days following symptoms improving and a fever breaking for 24 consecutive hours without use of fever-reducing medication, the CDC said.

Even after the isolation ends, those who tested positive and who experienced symptoms should wear a tight-fighting mask anytime they’re around other people for at least 10 days, the CDC recommends.

The West Virginia Legislature’s 2022 session is carrying on as Justice recovers from his illness. There, House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, left the state Capitol Thursday morning after he began experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, House communications director Ann Ali said.

House Majority Leader Amy Summers, R-Taylor, who is a nurse, urged Hanshaw to leave.

Hanshaw received a rapid COVID-19 test at the Capitol, which yielded a negative result. The most accurate tests for COVID-19 are PCR tests, which are lab analyzed but sometimes can take several days to get results. Experts say rapid tests are useful for immediately learning someone’s status if they are potentially going to expose other people to the virus.

Hanshaw had not been physically present with Justice in the days leading up to the governor’s COVID-19 diagnosis, Ali said.

Summers distributed rapid COVID-19 tests to all 100 delegates, including Hanshaw, on Thursday.

“The reason I’m putting those in your desk is I’d like you to take those home, and, if you’re ill, do it,” Summers said. “If it’s positive, don’t come in.”

The rapid COVID-19 tests also were available to House staff, Ali said.

There weren’t any immediate plans to make substantial changes in House function as of Thursday, Ali said.

Earlier this month, Hanshaw said it was the plan among House leaders to take the session day by day regarding COVID-19.

“We’re starting to process next week under the assumption that it will be business as usual, up and until circumstances warrant some kind of change,” Hanshaw said on Jan. 7. “Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying we would not make a change. I’m just saying we are not starting out [with changes].”

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