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According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Virginia’s past two week rate of new COVID-19 cases was 23.3 per 100,000 population on June 24, the date that former state health commissioner Dr. Cathy Slemp “resigned.” It was among the lowest in the United States, half the rate in New Jersey, and less than one-sixth of Florida’s rate.

Not anymore. Since then, our new case rate has quadrupled, as of July 21, while New Jersey’s has declined by about one-third. Interestingly, Florida’s has also quadrupled.

Gov. Jim Justice, whom I praised a month ago for listening to his health advisers, now appears to have tin ears. Does he really want our state to look like Florida? Where will we take care of the sick people?

Oh yeah, he wants to build highways with COVID-19 relief funds.

We need consistent and firm leadership from the governor, not waffling. Everybody needs to wear masks. No excuses. We can open school safely and all get back to work if we get the infection rate down, but we have to work together to do that. And we need good health leadership with clear, consistent messaging from the governor.

You own this problem, Gov. Justice.

Charles P. Schade