Coronavirus Pandemic

West Virginia Education Association's President Dale Lee attends a Senate Education Committee meeting on Jan. 24 2019.
Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A West Virginia teachers’ union is urging public schools to avoid face-to-face instruction when students return next month due to the coronavirus.

The West Virginia Education Association suggested the online-only start Thursday based on a survey of the union’s membership.

Members of the Our Students First Coalition gather on Aug. 12, 2020 outside the West Virginia Education building on the Capitol grounds in Charleston, W.Va.
Jenny Anderson / Our Students First Coalition

A coalition of teachers and public school advocates are asking for West Virginia schools to start remotely for the first 14 days with in-person instruction beginning only after 14 consecutive days of no new coronavirus cases in the state.

The Our Students First Coalition also wants state officials to allow students to return to in-person learning – on a county-by-county basis – if cases drop to zero in certain areas.

On this West Virginia Morning, a Wheeling-based artist is on the road to recovery after being diagnosed with the coronavirus. We hear about his experience. Also, in this show, we hear about the first graduation from a new family treatment court in West Virginia, and we learn about West Virginia’s fifth major export – airplane parts.

A statue of Shepherd University's mascot wears a face mask outside the football field during the coronavirus pandemic.
Shepherd University

Updated on Aug. 12, 2020 at 9:50 a.m. 

All of West Virginia’s higher education institutions have varying return-to-campus plans in place for the fall 2020 semester. But how will plans be enforced? And what consequences exist if students refuse to comply?

On this West Virginia Morning, should we be worried about our kids and grandkids catching COVID-19? The short answer, according to experts, is it’s unclear. We get into the long answer of this question in this show. Also, we hear local reports in government and energy, and we learn about some natural springs in Southwest Virginia that may not be as clean as residents thought.

On this West Virginia Morning, the coronavirus pandemic has led to a steep drop in standard immunizations. We explore the local and national conversation surrounding vaccines. Also, in this show, we hear how one state in the Ohio Valley region is trying to increase coronavirus testing access.

On this West Virginia Morning, in the wake of COVID-19, many city dwellers in New York and elsewhere have found themselves rethinking housing situations – especially now, if they can suddenly work from home. Also, in this show, we hear a report on the recent endorsement by the United Mine Workers of America for Ben Salango for West Virginia’s governor.

On this West Virginia Morning, we remember and celebrate two individuals and the important messages they leave behind. Also, in this show, we bring you the latest coronavirus news in West Virginia.

On this West Virginia Morning, we explore a couple contentious topics. We look at the impacts of Confederate monuments standing in our region, and we hear a report on Universal Basic Income and whether it could be one answer as residents in West Virginia experience unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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

WVU Medicine’s two Eastern Panhandle hospitals have lifted the zero-visitation policy put in place to combat the coronavirus.

Hospital inpatients and emergency department patients at Berkeley Medical Center and Jefferson Medical Center are now permitted to see visitors.

Jenny Lind is both an accounting student and facilities department employee at Shepherd University. Her duties in facilities have ramped up since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

There have been a lot of questions about what public schooling in West Virginia will look like in the fall, but there’s also quite a few questions about higher education.

Colleges and universities have been releasing updates on their websites in recent months about what they’re doing to prepare for a return to campuses in the fall – but uncertainty remains.

On this West Virginia Morning, we consider the challenges colleges and universities are facing as the fall semester approaches. Also, in this show, we visit Kermit in Mingo County. About ten years ago, this small town of about 350 people saw a flood of pain pills enter the community and devastate many people’s lives.

On this West Virginia Morning, while the coronavirus pandemic rages on, so does climate change. Some researchers say planting native species in our backyard is a step in the right direction. Also, in this show, we hear reports from around the state on challenges facing our region to provide adequate health care for both hospital access and those in recovery.

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.

On this West Virginia Morning, residents in Southern West Virginia got together this weekend for some “drive-in” professional wrestling. Also, in this show, we have updates on the spread of the coronavirus throughout our region, and we remember West Virginian Wade Shaffer who died last month from COVID-19.

Jefferson County Superintendent of Schools Bondy Shay Gibson speaks with board members and the community over Zoom in a special meeting about reopening on Monday, July 13, 2020.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Last week, Gov. Jim Justice ordered all public schools in West Virginia open for the 2020-2021 school year beginning Sept. 8. Schools must provide 180 instructional days and must have a five-day school week.

Of course, this could all change depending on how the coronavirus pandemic evolves. But county school boards are starting to prepare for that date and discuss how a return to school in a pandemic would look.

On this West Virginia Morning, we explore the question on many minds: what will happen with school this fall? West Virginia Public Broadcasting is asking questions and reflecting on student experiences this past spring.

On this West Virginia Morning, we learn about Karst Topography, which makes up parts of the Mountain State. Also, in this show, we hear updates on West Virginia’s special mine reclamation fund and efforts by the West Virginia House of Delegates to call a special session. We also hear from a former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who discusses the importance of face masks.

On this West Virginia Morning, the coronavirus pandemic has kept many people who would otherwise gather, away from one another including a group that takes part in shape-note singing. Also, in this show, we hear a conversation with an epidemiologist in Monongalia County who speaks to the county’s recent spike in coronavirus case numbers and how to tackle further spread.

Ex-W.Va. Health Chief: Cuts Hurt Virus Response

Jul 10, 2020
West Virginia Governor's Office

The former West Virginia public health leader forced out by the governor says decades-old computer systems and cuts to staff over a period of years had made a challenging job even harder during a once-in-a-century pandemic.

Republican Gov. Jim Justice demanded Dr. Cathy Slemp’s resignation on June 24. He complained about discrepancies in the number of active cases and accused Slemp of not doing her job. He has refused to elaborate.

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear from a pediatrician who weighs in on whether children should return to public school in the fall. Also, in this show, we hear an excerpt from the latest episode of Us & Them about the challenges of receiving mental health care during the coronavirus pandemic.

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear from Dr. Cathy Slemp, who was recently ousted from her position as the state’s top public health official. Also, in this show, we hear a report from Marshall University as the school voted to remove the name of a Confederate soldier from a campus building; we hear about a settlement paid to a Black woman from Charleston who was forcefully arrested last year, and we hear from author Jordan Farmer on his new book Poison Flood.

On this West Virginia Morning, Gov. Jim Justice has ordered the wearing of face masks inside public buildings in West Virginia. Also, in this show, a middle school on Charleston’s west side will change its name after the Kanawha County Board of Education voted unanimously to remove an association with Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, and we hear a story about modern dance from our Appalachia Folkways Project.

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.

Health officials say handmade cloth face masks like these can help limit the spread of COVID-19 from the wearer to others.
Adobe Stock

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.

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.

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.

On this West Virginia Morning, a group of residents in Letcher County, Kentucky confront a judge over a Facebook post in which he downplayed racism and accused protesters of heightening tensions. Also, in this show, we hear how religious leaders in West Virginia are responding to the coronavirus pandemic at their places of worship. We also visit some towns in the state to hear how the pandemic’s economic impact is affecting local tourism.

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.