On this West Virginia Morning, we hear how schools are using federal and state dollars to cope with COVID-19. Also, in this show, we hear about a housing complex in southern West Virginia built for teachers, a Black Lives Matter march in Kingwood, and we hear about author Larry Tye’s new biography, “Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy.”

COVID, School, Supplies, COVID Relief, Education
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When Congress passed the CARES Act earlier this summer to help Americans navigate the toll from the coronavirus pandemic, West Virginia received more than $1 billion.

Of that figure, $86.6 million was put into a fund called the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSERF). That fund was spent two ways: $78 million was dispersed to all 55 county school districts, divvied up based on the number of low-income students in each district. And $8.6 million was withheld by the West Virginia Department of Education to be used for emergencies related to COVID-19.

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The COVID-19 pandemic is causing added stress and anxiety across the nation and the globe. West Virginia’s capital city has responded by hiring a mental health coordinator to respond to growing local needs.

“This is a really stressful period, even for those who were not experiencing challenges before,” said Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin, acknowledging financial stressors, evictions, childcare and other health issues that are impacting mental health.

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

Nearly 1 million renter households across the Ohio Valley are unable to pay rent and at risk of eviction, according to research firm Stout. That amounts to 42 percent of renter households in Kentucky, 46 percent in Ohio and 47 percent in West Virginia.

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

Updated Tuesday, July 28 2020 at 10:52 a.m.


As federal lawmakers debate another coronavirus aid package, Gov. Jim Justice says he’d like a small group of state lawmakers to help shape how West Virginia would use that funding. 


But Justice also said Monday he might be open to a special session to let lawmakers have more input on any additional dollars that come in. 

West Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Salango speaks to the public and media at a press conference in Charleston on July 20, 2020.
Ben Salango / Facebook Live

West Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Ben Salango, a Democrat, joined members of the state’s American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO chapters Monday to call on Gov. Jim Justice to outline how he intends to use federal money to help public schools open safely this fall.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Updated Monday, July 13, 2020 at 4:25 p.m.

Lawmakers in the West Virginia House of Delegates are approaching a needed number of signatures to call themselves into a special session, but such an effort appears to be dead on arrival in the Senate. The push comes as some legislators have taken issue with Gov. Jim Justice’s spending of federal funding related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Governor Jim Justice speaks at his virtual press briefing, June 26, 2020
Office of Gov. Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice says his office has found a way to cover what’s expected to be a $250 million budget hole. The governor rolled out the plan in a midday meeting with top lawmakers on Friday before releasing it to the general public.

In a virtual news briefing, Justice outlined the state’s financial situation, which has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. His plan routes federal aid dollars to various state agencies and pulls from the Medicaid surplus fund to cover the budget gap. 

Caitlin Tan / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This time of year, the Hatfield McCoy trail system in southern West Virginia usually is buzzing with ATVs. In fact, Jeffrey Lusk, director of the Hatfield McCoy Regional Recreation Authority, said he makes almost half of his permit sales for the year from March 1 to April 30. 

But for towns and local businesses along the trail system, things are pretty quiet these days. The Hatfield McCoy trails have been closed since March 20, by an executive order from Governor Jim Justice to enforce social distancing and public health recommendations from the federal government. 

Courtesy Tonia Casey

Food banks and pantries across the Ohio Valley are seeing spiked demand as an unprecedented surge of people continue to file for unemployment benefits, with food banks facing weeks long delays to get certain products. Meanwhile, some farmers are facing a financial crisis, sitting on excess food they can’t sell — food that could be directed to food banks and pantries.