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A Cabell-Huntington Health Department employee waits to screen anyone entering the health department for COVID-19 symptoms on March 31 in Huntington.

CHARLESTON — West Virginia officials are using a new system to monitor COVID-19 spread in the counties.

Dr. Cathy Slemp, state health officer, on Thursday explained the new “high alert” system health officials have developed to better monitor spread of the virus as more businesses reopen, thus sending more residents into the community.

A rise in cases will trigger rapid assessment and guide action based on a seven-day rolling sum of new, non-outbreak-associated cases based on population size. The Bureau for Public Health will examine additional data and undertake a rapid joint assessment with county health officials.

Following the rapid assessment and examination of data that suggest an increase in community transmission, the county may be designated by Gov. Jim Justice as “high alert.” Depending on the individual county circumstances, action plans will include providing or assigning needed resource supports and/or strongly reinforcing or potentially increasing community mitigation measures.

Once on the heightened alert list, a county will stay on it until a consistent decrease in community spread of COVID-19 is seen. Removal from the alert list will be based on data and in collaboration with the local health department.

“This approach will provide a consistent way to allow West Virginia to return to work, while ensuring that we are monitoring for and taking aggressive steps to prevent the resurgence of the virus,” Slemp said.

Justice on Thursday announced more businesses and industries that can reopen. Along with all gyms being permitted to open Monday, May 18, Justice added whitewater rafting and zip-lining businesses to the list of those permitted to reopen Thursday, May 21. Guided rock climbing can resume May 22.

“All you’ve got to do is do what you’ve already done. Don’t drop your guard,” Justice said. “This situation is still with us. Don’t get upset with me if we have to shut it back down. We will to protect our people.”

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.