CHARLESTON — Any county that is in the orange color code on the County Alert System this Saturday will not have in-person instruction in schools or any sports competitions next week.

Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday during his COVID-19 briefing that, given the rising number of positive cases in areas around the state, there is “no possibility that we should be back in school in these counties that are orange or red.”

“This situation is becoming more and more critical,” he said of the new cases, which have driven the daily positivity rate to 7.78 percent statewide, and a new record was set Wednesday for the number of active cases, rising to 2,806.

Not only can the schools in orange and red counties not have in-person instruction, Justice said he is also looking at the possibility of reimposing some restrictions in those counties, including shutting down some businesses.

“We are looking at that very closely,” he said. “It’s time to absolutely think about it … We don’t want to take anything off the table.”

Justice said the situation with rising daily numbers (147 in the last 24 hours), “we are getting worse by the day.”

Another county, Pocahontas County, became the ninth county in orange. Only Monongalia County remains in red.

Mercer County was in orange last Saturday but right now is in yellow, and Monroe County remains in orange. McDowell County is in green. All schools in green or yellow can have in-person instruction as well as all athletic and extracurricular events.

Justice also said the County Alert System map that is posted on Saturday to indicate what will happen in schools the following week will be posted earlier, starting Sept. 12, changing from 9 p.m. to 5 p.m. to give families more time to make arrangements if kids do not go to school next week.

Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com.

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