Appalachia Health News

Office of Gov. Jim Justice


Gov. Jim Justice issued a “stay home” order Monday and shut down all nonessential businesses, including cabins and restrooms at state parks. State and local park trails will stay open as well as golf courses. 

Gov. Jim Justice held a statewide address Saturday, urging West Virginians to take the coronavirus seriously, stay home and take care of the elderly. The governor announced the number of confirmed cases in the state is now 12 but the address did not include any other major updates.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, stories of hope and resilience, of communities coming together while also staying apart, all in response to the coronavirus. We’ll hop around the state to hear how communities are making sure kids have the food they need to continue to thrive despite being out of school.

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West Virginia University Medicine on Wednesday opened drive-thru coronavirus testing sites for pre-screened patients.

The sites will be in Morgantown, Parkersburg, Bridgeport, Wheeling, and Martinsburg, according to a WVU Medicine news release. They will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll talk to an author and playwright who has thought a lot about how growing up in our region shapes what we become. We’ll also bring you the latest headlines on coronavirus in West Virginia.

West Virginia University

Work is underway in West Virginia to develop tests for coronavirus. 

Clay Marsh, WVU Health Sciences Vice President and Executive Dean, said several entities, including WVU, are in the process of developing their own test for the disease. 

“We’re not necessarily trying to replace anybody,” he said. “We’re just trying to add to the ability to test more people, more quickly.” 

Check back here for the latest coverage on the coronavirus.

Hello, everyone, I'm Governor Jim Justice, and I really appreciate you joining me tonight. 

We've got some things to talk about that are very serious, very concerning. But I want you, again, to listen closely and not be fearful and not panic. Over the last several weeks, I've been working with all of our health superstars. They've been feeding me all kinds of different information as well as our great General Hoyer with our great National Guard. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we'll hear a harrowing snake story. We’ll also bring you the latest update on the state response to the coronavirus.

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

Check back here for the latest coverage on the coronavirus.

One of the reasons coronavirus is so scary is that it is possible to be a carrier for the disease and not know it. Some people are asymptomatic and some people have mild symptoms. But as of Monday, West Virginia has only tested 84 people for coronavirus – out of a state of 1.8 million. Critics say that’s not nearly enough.

If you wanted to check to see if you had coronavirus so you could make sure you’re in the clear before going to visit an elderly relative – could you? 

The short answer? No – not in West Virginia, at least.

Elementary Classroom
Douglaspperkins / Wikimedia Commons

Updated March 15, 2020 at 9:00 p.m.

 

Although no cases of the novel coronavirus have been found in West Virginia yet, Gov. Jim Justice announced Friday, March 13, all West Virginia schools are to close on Monday as a precaution. 

 

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

Only a handful of states have no reported coronavirus cases to date, one of which is West Virginia. Gov. Jim Justice held a press conference Thursday to talk about the state’s plan to prepare. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia has an aging population, and concerns over the novel coronavirus are gathering momentum as surrounding states identify more and more cases. On this West Virginia Morning, we hear how the state is preparing.

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The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources now has the capacity to test for coronavirus in-state. Prior to this point, tests had to be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In a press release, Governor Jim Justice said this will allow the state to respond faster to contain the disease if needed. Commissioner of public health Dr. Catherine Slemp said they expect commercial testing will soon be available, but the DHHR is working to make sure results are reported to the state so officials can keep accurate surveillance.

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In the light of the spread of coronavirus abroad, Marshall University has announced it will cancel all university-sponsored international travel for at least the next 10 days. The announcement was made in response to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in consultation with the university’s chief medical officer, according to a press release. 

West Virginia University

West Virginia University has launched a website dedicated to information about coronavirus. It includes the university’s response plan for the university community if the virus were to spread to West Virginia as well as information for the general public, including two informational videos.

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County and city agencies met Monday at the Kanawha Charleston Health Department to work out a plan if the Coronavirus were to come to West Virginia. 

The meeting was closed to the public, but afterward health officer Dr. Sherri Young spoke with the press. She said the discussions centered around where is the disease now, what do they need to do to keep the public healthy and what public health agencies need to do to prepare if COVID-19 spreads to West Virginia. 

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This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

 

As coronavirus continues to spread in the United States, people are starting to wonder -- how at risk am I? Health reporter Kara Lofton spoke with Dr. Jennifer Horney, an epidemiologist at the University of Delaware, about what we know about coronavirus so far and what we might be able to expect.

 

 

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Two West Virginia state agencies have partnered to offer free transportation to treatment and recovery care services for people with Opioid Use Disorder. 

As of March 2nd, individuals with opioid use disorder will have access to a free ride from the West Virginia Public Transportation Association to treatment. The new initiative is part of the state Opioid Response Grant from the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 

Photo illustration courtesy Kentucky Hospital Association

This month Fairmont Regional Hospital announced it was closing its doors. It's the fourth Appalachian hospital to do so in the last six months. Health Reporter Kara Lofton spoke with West Virginia Hospital Association President Joe Letnaunchyn about why so many rural hospitals are struggling and what he sees as possible solutions.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear from a woman who is reaching out to grandparents who are raising their grandkids.

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Charleston Area Medical Center has announced it will be collaborating with Greenbrier Valley Medical Center in Greenbrier County and Plateau Medical Center in Fayette County to improve access to advanced care specialists at CMAC. According to a press release, the first initiative will be tele-cardiology support.

Fairmont Regional Medical Center via Facebook

This is a developing story and will be updated. 

 

In an internal memo to employees, Fairmont Regional Medical Center announced today, Feb. 18,  it will be closing citing financial difficulties. 

 

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The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources received a three million dollar grant to help the state combat opioid use disorder among pregnant and postpartum women. 

The grant will support a new initiative called the Maternal Opioid Model, which focuses on improving the quantity and quality of care available to new moms and their babies with Medicaid. West Virginia is one of 10 states to be awarded the five-year federal grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

WVU Hospitals / @wvumedicine / Instagram

 

One West Virginia child has died of the flu, marking it the first pediatric flu-related death in the state since the 2017/2018 season. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health confirmed the incident Tuesday. To protect the family’s privacy, no details of the death were released.


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A new study has found that when grandparents were either the main caregiver or lived in the home with children, the children had a 30 percent increased risk in being overweight or obese. 

The authors reviewed 23 studies across the globe and found the risk seemed to be present no matter where in the world the child lived. 

The authors said grandparents can have a big influence on both daily diet -- for instance giving sweets and fried foods as a token of love or through physical activity -- being more likely to excuse a child from chores. 

WVU Photo/ Raymond Thompson Jr.

West Virginians from across the state may have an easier time getting active, thanks to a new project from West Virginia University that aims to increase or improve pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure.

Thirteen projects across the state are receiving grants of up to $5,000 from the WVU College of Physical Activity and Sports Science project, The Center for ActiveWV. The initiative launched in 2019 and aims to combat the state’s obesity epidemic through increased access to healthy foods and physical activity opportunities, according to a press release. 

Courtesy of the WV ACLU project Many Roads Home

In 1965, Charleston, West Virginia was home to about 85,000 residents — now, that number has almost halved. The people who are left look a lot like the population in the rest of the state — namely white and older. And as they age, those older folks need someone to care for them. But across the United States, there’s a direct care worker shortage. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a new survey from APM Research Lab shows attitudes across the country toward immigrants shift depending on the makeup of our local communities.

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A new policy brief from The Commonwealth Foundation has found that the United States spends nearly twice what other wealthy countries spend on health care, but has the lowest life expectancy and highest sucide rate.

The researchers pulled data collected by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and used it to compare American health care spending, outcomes, risk factors and quality to 10 other wealthy countries, including Australia, Germany, Norway and Canada. 

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A new study has found that older adults with chronic health issues like heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder are much more likely to also have problems with memory loss. 

The researchers analyzed three years of data from an annual Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-assisted phone survey. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and several U.S. territories participated. 

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