- West Virginia Commissioner of
Agriculture Kent Leonhardt released the following statement regarding the
“The West Virginia
Department of Agriculture is taking the necessary precautions to reduce
risk of infection to all employees. Employees who are able conduct their
duties at home, have been instructed as such. Those who are still required
to come to work have been instructed to stay at home if they feel unwell.
Employees will be granted leave by a case by case basis. We will continue
to serve the public while minimizing the risk to our staff,” said
Commissioner Kent Leonhardt.
national level, there have been no reports of any animals becoming sick
with the coronavirus. Additionally, there is no evidence animals can spread
the virus. At this time, we have no indication that animals, including
household pets, are at risk for infection of COVID-19. However, we urge
animal caretakers to take extra precautions when handling livestock, as
well as companion pets,” Leonhardt said.
For those who have
contracted COVID-19 infection, the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
recommends restricting contact with pets and other animals while sick.
Those infected should consider having another member of your household care
for your animals until symptoms subside. If you must care for your pet or
be around animals while sick, wash your hands before and after you interact
with pets and wear a facemask.
“We are working
closely with federal partners, the Governor’s office and other state
partners to monitor the situation. If you have questions or concerns, reach
out to your local veterinarian or the WVDA for assistance. In the meantime,
we encourage everyone to take extra care and precautions when it comes to
handling animals, as well as yourself,” Leonhardt said.
The WVDA has
received and will continue to field questions regarding companion animal
owners and livestock producers and whether their animals can become
infected or transit COVID-19. The WVDA is working with the United States
Department of Agriculture (USDA) for any potential response to secondary
impacts related to animals. In addition, the USDA’s National Veterinary
Services Laboratory and National Animal Health Laboratory Network is
gearing up for testing related to COVID-19 if a case arises with an animal
in close association with an infected person.
“With the closure
of schools, one of our top priorities is ensuring no child goes hungry. We
stand ready to work with the Governor’s office and the National Guard on
how best to distribute those commodities to those who need it most, as well
as anything other emergency response capabilities we can offer. This is a
time we must come together to serve the people of our state,” Leonhardt
The WVDA delivers
approximately 15% of all the food commodities to 725 public and private
schools. Additionally, the WVDA works with West Virginia’s two Feeding
America Food Banks to distribute 9.8 million pounds of food annually.
At this time, the
WVDA does not plan to halt any normal business activities. All regular
testing, inspections, and services will remain at full capacity until
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