Jun 24, 2020 - Politics & Policy

West Virginia governor pushed out top health official after questioning coronavirus data

A "Welcome to West Virginia" sign.

Photo: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) on Wednesday pushed Cathy Slemp, the state's public health commissioner, to resign hours after Justice publicly questioned the accuracy of coronavirus data in the state, NBC News reports.

Why it matters: Roughly a dozen West Virginia counties are seeing their case counts grow. Justice said he expressed a "lack of confidence” in Slemp to the secretary West Virginia's health department, who subsequently asked for and received Slemp's resignation, according to a statement.

  • A spokesperson for the state's public health department separately noted that there were discrepancies in COVID-19 data at the Huttonsville Correctional Center in Randolph County.
  • Slemp was a frequent figure at the state coronavirus press briefings and previously received praise from Justice for her response to the outbreak.

The big picture: Justice has declined to tighten coronavirus restrictions as the state continues its gradual reopening. Per John's Hopkins University, West Virginia has over 2,600 coronavirus cases and has seen 92 deaths as of Wednesday.

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