News

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A complaint filed last year against West Virginia officials, alleging that they violated the rights of a dozen foster care children, could expand after attorneys filed a new motion this week to represent the more than 6,900 minors in the state’s child welfare system. 

The Appalachian Regional Commission with data from the U.S. Census Bureau

With the 2020 census count concluding at the end of this month, West Virginia is the second most accounted for state. 

Newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that all but 4.6 percent of West Virginians have filled out the once-in-a-decade population count, putting the state behind only Idaho for most people counted in the 2020 census.


Rebecca Kiger / Looking At Appalachia

What happens when strangers with cameras come to Appalachia? It’s a complicated topic that many Appalachians have strong feelings about. We’re taking another listen to an episode we aired in 2015, but it seems like this issue never goes away.

Who gets to tell our story? What is the right way to photograph a community?

On this West Virginia Morning, we talk about pictures — and who takes them and what that means in Appalachia. Also, in this show, we hear about a county court in Kentucky that passed a resolution for a Confederate monument to remain on the grounds there, and we bring you this week’s Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

Empty classroom, school, classroom, desks
Adobe Stock

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Salango and union leaders in West Virginia education say Gov. Jim Justice and state officials are not doing enough for a safe reopening of schools next week. 

Woodburn Hall, WVU
Associated Press

West Virginia University reported its highest number of daily coronavirus cases among students for the second straight day.

The 48 confirmed student cases reported Thursday out of 408 tests given equates to a positive case rate of 11.8%. It marks the fourth straight time that the rate has exceeded 10%. By comparison, the statewide seven-day positive average was 2.94%.

The previous high of 38 positive student cases was reported Wednesday.

You may have heard of the Paw Paw, but how much do you really know about this mysterious Appalachian fruit? Learn about the Paw Paw from WVU Core Arboretum Director Zack Fowler!

Emily Allen / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On Wednesday, dozens of bright yellow signs were sprinkled across more than a dozen towns in Putnam and Kanawha counties, some accompanied by purple balloons, others leading to tents and tables with bright yellow bags and pamphlets.

“FREE NALOXONE TODAY,” the signs advertised. “OVERDOSE REVERSAL DRUG.”

Naloxone, sometimes called Narcan, is a medication that can be administered nasally or by injection, to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It can prevent an otherwise fatal outcome, and advocates say it can offer someone dealing with addiction a chance at recovery.

On this West Virginia Morning, we check in with teams distributing anti-overdose drugs to some communities in West Virginia. Also, in this show, West Virginia isn’t the only state grappling with coal industry challenges. We explore how declines in the industry have affected Colorado.

The Mount Olive Correctional Complex
West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Coronavirus outbreaks at West Virginia correctional facilities continue to grow, the governor announced on Wednesday.

Five additional inmates have tested positive at Mount Olive Correctional Complex since Monday, according to state data, bringing the total to 143 positives cases. Gov. Jim Justice said 18 staff members there were also confirmed to be infected.

Blackjewel Miners Could Get More Money From Proposed Settlement

Sep 2, 2020
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

A proposed $17.3 million settlement of a class action lawsuit would provide additional payment for hundreds of Appalachian coal miners who were suddenly left jobless by the abrupt bankruptcy of the Blackjewel mining company. 

The settlement must be approved by the judge overseeing the complicated Blackjewel bankruptcy case. Although it is not yet final, attorneys for the miners call the agreement a “major victory” in bankruptcy court, a venue that is often not favorable to workers’ claims. 

Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs / http://www.clarksburg.va.gov/

A man who says he alerted authorities to a string of suspicious patient deaths at a West Virginia veterans hospital has filed a lawsuit claiming he was wrongfully suspended because of his actions, a newspaper reported.

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

Two days after bars were allowed to reopen in Monongalia County, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has again ordered them closed. That order comes as students from West Virginia University finished their first week of classes and filled downtown Morgantown in droves.

Justice said Wednesday that bars in Monongalia would close Wednesday at 4 p.m. for an indefinite amount of time. After being ordered closed in mid-July, Justice repeatedly extended those closures, which stretched until Monday, Aug. 31. Bars in the county were then allowed to reopen, although those openings were short-lived.

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Colton Mearkle is a registered nurse at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia. When the pandemic began, his floor was converted to caring for COVID-19 patients. 

He spoke with Eric Douglas recently about treating coronavirus patients and what he wants the rest of us to know. 

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity. 

Douglas: Describe for me the care that you provide for a COVID patient. 

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear from a nurse who is taking care of COVID-19 patients. Also, in this show, we listen back to an interview with Jeanette Walls, author of “The Glass Castle.”

The Trump administration is ordering a halt on evictions nationwide through December for people who have lost work during the pandemic and don't have other good housing options.

The new eviction ban is being enacted through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal is to stem the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, which the agency says in its order "presents a historic threat to public health."

In this July 19, 2020, file photo, Kanye West makes his first presidential campaign appearance, in North Charleston, S.C. West has sued the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office after being told his bid to get on the ballot for president came up short
Lauren Petracca Ipetracca / AP file Photo

Rapper Kanye West has sued the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office after being told his bid to get on the ballot for president came up short on qualified signatures.

A webinar series aimed at helping West Virginia students and families figure out how to best pay for college is kicking off this week and will continue through the end of April 2021.

The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia will host 20 financial aid webinars to assist prospective students in applying for scholarships and financial aid.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy is piloting a new event Wednesday, called Save a Life day, where more than 15 sites across Putnam and Kanawha Counties are prepared to distribute 1,000 naloxone kits to anyone who comes their way. 

With the start of a new month, some workers may get a boost in their take-home pay. The Trump administration has given employers the option to stop collecting payroll taxes for most workers through the end of this year.

President Trump announced the move three weeks ago, after failing to reach a deal with Congress on a more comprehensive pandemic relief package.

"This will mean bigger paychecks for working families as we race to produce a vaccine," Trump said.

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear an excerpt from a recent episode of Us & Them that explores how the coronavirus pandemic exploded telehealth use in the state. Also, in this show, we hear about the sport of Falconry.

President Trump on Monday declined to condemn the actions of the 17-year-old suspect in the shooting of three protesters against police brutality in Kenosha, Wis., claiming, without evidence, that it appeared the gunman was acting in self-defense.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

School superintendents in three counties with especially high numbers of COVID-19 cases are forgoing an offer from the governor to test all of their student athletes, a proposal that he said would've allowed teams to compete in their first respective games of the season this week. 

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice says some West Virginians on unemployment will be able to receive an extra $400 weekly benefit.

Because of a congressional stalemate over another coronavirus relief package, an additional benefit of $600 expired on Aug. 1. The following week, President Donald Trump took executive action and called for states to cover $100 of an additional $400 to those on unemployment.

The Mount Olive Correctional Complex
West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Dozens of inmates at a West Virginia prison have tested positive for the new coronavirus, health officials said.

On this West Virginia Morning, we look at politics, opioid overdose prevention, the pandemic, and of course, school.

As the fall semester gets underway, college students are reuniting with their friends, getting (re)acquainted with campus and doing what college students often do: partying. But in the time of the coronavirus, as more parties surface university administrators have been quick to condemn — and even berate — the behavior of students.

"Be better. Be adults. Think of someone other than yourself," pleaded a letter to students at Syracuse University following a large gathering on campus.

Despite a foothold in medicine that predates Hippocrates himself, the traditional physical exam might be on the verge of extinction. The coronavirus crisis has driven more routine medical appointments online, accelerating a trend toward telemedicine that has already been underway.

Adobe Stock

This article was updated Saturday, Aug. 29, to include details from the U.S. Marshals Service.

The first person to die of COVID-19 at a state-run jail is a 40-year-old man from Wood County who was being held on federal charges, according to a news release from the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation on Friday.

Courtesy of Bobby Balthis

The Mine Safety and Health Administration is declining to issue an emergency temporary standard that could protect coal miners whose jobs make them vulnerable to the coronavirus.

That’s according to an Aug. 14 letter from Department of Labor Deputy Assistant Secretary Joe Wheeler to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. MSHA can issue emergency temporary standards only when it determines that miners are exposed to a grave danger. It has only issued a handful of such standards, MSHA said, typically in the aftermath of large-scale mining disasters.

In the letter, Wheeler writes, “At this time, MSHA has determined it lacks evidence that COVID-19 poses a grave risk specific to miners.”

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