Coronavirus

Brittany Patterson / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Updated Friday, July 10, 2020 at 3:50 p.m.

Gov. Jim Justice says he is considering closing bars and indoor dining in Monongalia County as the Morgantown area experiences a spike in the number of new coronavirus cases. Justice said in a Friday virtual news briefing that closing some aspects of business in the county may be the only way to avoid another statewide shutdown. 

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Gov. Jim Justice says his administration expects to reopen West Virginia schools later than usual this fall because of the coronavirus. That announcement comes despite the Trump administration pushing states to reopen schools as soon as possible.

Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET

President Trump vowed to exert pressure on states to reopen their school districts this fall even as large parts of the country are experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases.

"We're very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools," Trump said during a roundtable discussion Tuesday afternoon at the White House.

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Students at West Virginia’s two largest universities will be required to wear face masks when they return to campus for fall semester.

This tracks with Gov. Jim Justice’s Monday executive order that masks be worn inside all publicly and privately owned buildings in the state, which takes effect at midnight Tuesday.

At Marshall University in Huntington, students and employees will receive a Return-to-Campus kit containing face coverings and hand sanitizer. The face coverings will be required in all university buildings but an exception will be made for personal workspaces.

 

Updated Monday, July 6, 2020 at 5:40 p.m.

 

Citing a spike in the number of coronavirus cases, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has ordered masks to be worn in buildings outside of a resident’s home. 

 

In a virtual news conference Monday, Justice said he is issuing an order that will require anyone over 9 years old to wear a face covering in "all confined indoor spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained." Justice said there are exceptions for people with certain breathing conditions and those who cannot otherwise remove a mask on their own.

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear an update from Gov. Jim Justice who is warning of mandating face masks in public. Also, in this show, we hear how colleges and universities in the state are reacting to financial challenges brought on by COVID-19; we hear the latest on the unprecedented numbers of unemployment claims in the region; we hear about a federal spending bill that may help improve infrastructure in coal-reliant communities, and we hear this week’s Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

Jesse Wright / WVPB

In 2018, when Mirta Martin became president of Fairmont State University, she never imagined leading a school that was already in a dire financial state because of a pandemic. But because of measures she took upon taking the job, she doesn’t have to raise tuition in the face of the coronavirus.

Health officials say handmade cloth face masks like these can help limit the spread of COVID-19 from the wearer to others.
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The debate over whether to wear face masks to combat the spread of the coronavirus steered much of the discussion during a virtual town hall in the Eastern Panhandle Wednesday night. The Jefferson County Commission hosted the event with local medical professionals.

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice is warning that he may mandate masks be worn in public beginning next week. That warning comes as West Virginia reported its highest daily number of new coronavirus cases since mid-May. 

 

In a virtual news briefing held Thursday, Justice said he is considering an order that would mandate residents wear masks in buildings outside of their homes. 

 

“I want to give you notice that, right now, I am terribly concerned about what's coming,” he said. 

 

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear from a veteran reporter who covers the environment about the struggling system that makes sure that mining sites are cleaned up. Also, in this show, we hear about a resolution passed Tuesday in Shepherdstown calling on Gov. Jim Justice to require face masks across the state, and we hear how COVID-19 has affected worship for Muslims.

Downtown Shepherdstown
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / David Fattaleh/WV Division of Tourism (WVDT)

A month after passing a resolution strongly encouraging Shepherdstown businesses to require face masks inside their establishments, the Shepherdstown Town Council is formally calling on Gov. Jim Justice to mandate face masks in public spaces across West Virginia.

Posters like this one can be seen in windows of several businesses in Shepherdstown, W.Va.
Shepherdstown Town Council

Updated on July 2, 2020 at 5:30 p.m. 

Scientific evidence is mounting that wearing a mask is an effective way to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But in many states, including West Virginia, officials have been reluctant to mandate mask wearing in public.

In the Eastern Panhandle, one town has passed a resolution that “strongly encourages” mask wearing and gives businesses the option to get local police involved if customers refuse to wear one inside their establishments.

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear a conversation about the coronavirus, antibodies and what medical researchers are trying to learn about immunity as it relates to the ongoing pandemic. Also, in this show, we hear about a resolution passed in Shepherdstown that “strongly encourages” businesses there to require customers to wear face masks.

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice is defending his decision to oust the state commissioner of public health after pointing to inaccurate reporting of coronavirus cases. 

In a Monday virtual news briefing, Justice fielded questions from reporters about the resignation of Dr. Cathy Slemp, who stepped down last week from her position as West Virginia’s top public health official. 

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. 

Updated at 10:45 a.m. ET

With numbers spiking across Southern states, the United States set a daily record for new COVID-19 cases Thursday.

According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, 39,972 new cases were recorded June 25, surpassing the previous record set April 24, which saw 36,291 new cases.

In a new rule announced Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos signaled she is standing firm on her intention to reroute millions of dollars in coronavirus aid money to K-12 private school students. The CARES Act rescue package included more than $13 billion to help public schools cover pandemic-related costs.

Formerly Disenfranchised Kentucky Voters Cast Their Ballots

Jun 25, 2020
WFPL

 

For many in the Ohio Valley, voting is a choice, a right they are free to exercise if they want to. But for Jackie McGranahan and the more than 175,000 other formerly disenfranchised Kentuckians, this primary election is special. It’s her first chance to vote since 2008. 

She won’t be going to a voting booth. Elections are a bit different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and most voting in Kentucky is happening by mail. But even though she couldn’t go to the polls with her friends or be handed her ‘I Voted’ sticker, that didn’t stop McGranahan from savoring the moment of voting.

 

USDA

As the economies of the Ohio Valley gradually reopen from the pandemic closures, state officials are still reporting hundreds of coronavirus cases each day in the region. In Kentucky, coronavirus cases are again on the rise, with a week-long average of daily cases approaching the highest level yet. Public health officials are concerned about a spread of coronavirus into more rural parts of the region. 

A watch glass containing microscopic spores of diverse strains of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. These beneficial fungi form spores inside and outside the roots of their plant hosts, helping plants to colonize former mining lands.
Matt Kasson / West Virginia University


Thousands of people have found themselves working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Of course, essential workers don’t have that luxury. But that’s not the only type of work that can’t be done from home.

 

Scientists across the country have struggled to maintain access to their research, including researchers who take care of living collections — those libraries of living things, usually housed at academic institutions, and used for study or preservation. 

 

On this West Virginia Morning, health officials in the state are concerned that people are becoming too relaxed about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, making outbreaks more likely. Also, one of the state’s top health officials has resigned. And if the state were to tighten restrictions, what might that mean for our friends in recovery from substance abuse?

Even if someone is infected by the novel coronavirus and remains asymptomatic — free of coughing, fever, fatigue and other common signs of infection, that doesn't mean the coronavirus isn't taking a toll. The virus can still be causing mild — although likely reversible — harm to their lungs.

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says the state’s budget will be in good shape despite a significant hole in revenue due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

On this West Virginia Morning, we’re still celebrating Father’s Day. We hear from some new dads who became fathers during the coronavirus pandemic. Also, we meet Tina Russell, the first Black woman in West Virginia’s history to win a democratic primary in Mercer County.

Mark Shaver hadn't seen his 96-year-old mother, Betty, in months when he hit a breaking point and decided he had to see her.

Shaver lived in South Carolina and Betty was in a nursing home in Morgantown, W.Va., when COVID-19 outbreaks began sweeping across the nation. By early March, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice requested that nursing homes in the state restrict visitors, blocking any real chance Shaver would have to see his mom in person.

Mask wearing has become a topic of fierce debate in the United States.

Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg, W.Va.
WVU Medicine/West Virginia University

Updated on June 19, 2020 at 5:30 p.m.

As West Virginia continues to ease coronavirus-related restrictions this week under Gov. Jim Justice’s safer-at-home order, including nursing home visitations, some hospitals in the state are choosing to keep their doors shut to most visitors.

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Officials are urging vacation-goers to rethink upcoming travel and get tested for the coronavirus if they have visited Myrtle Beach. In today’s virtual press briefing, officials said more new coronavirus cases have been linked to recent trips there.

On this West Virginia Morning, we conclude our week of youth-themed coverage with a father who shares the memory of meeting his daughter just after she was born. Also, we hear another winning student writer – this time from kindergarten. We also have a discussion on how the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected black Americans, and we bring you this week’s Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

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

State and local health officials have arranged for free testing in Boone, Lincoln, McDowell, Raleigh and Wyoming counties next week. 

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