COVID-19

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.

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.

Adobe Stock

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.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice gives a speech during a Department of Tourism conference Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, at the Morgantown Event Center.
Jesse Wright / WVPB

Billionaire West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice's family companies received at least $6.3 million from a federal rescue package meant to keep small businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, according to data released by the Treasury Department on Monday.

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.

Inside the Muslim Association of Huntington, a mosque in Huntington, W.Va., Friday, May 22, 2020
Kyle Vass/ WVPB

COVID-19 has changed many aspects of worship for people of different faiths, including religious holidays. During Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, fasting and communal meals in the evenings normally mark many of the tradition. 

This year, things were different, as Muslims across the globe were unable to meet in person with their friends and family.

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.

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.

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.

New River Gorge Bridge
Chad Matlick / WVPB

A new report shows that tourism in southern West Virginia’s national parks injected more than $70 million into the local economies in 2019, which was before the coronavirus pandemic impacted the business in the state. 


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.

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.

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.

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. 

An NPR survey of state health departments shows that the national coronavirus contact tracing workforce has tripled in the past six weeks, from 11,142 workers to 37,110. Yet given their current case counts, only seven states and the District of Columbia are staffed to the level that public health researchers say is needed to contain outbreaks.

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

At least six local health departments in West Virginia have now reported coronavirus outbreaks related to  churches. 

As of Wednesday, the state reported 34 positive cases of COVID-19 at the Graystone Baptist Church in Greenbrier County, four positive cases at the First Baptist Church in Ohio County and four active cases at the Church of Christ in Bloomingrose, Boone County. 

Martinsburg High School Principal Trent Sherman reaches out to shake hands with a graduating senior on May 26, 2020 during Martinsburg High School’s drive-through graduation. Sherman did not wear gloves or a mask during the event.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


High schools throughout the United States and in West Virginia have had to reimagine graduation for the Class of 2020. Many have already had drive-through, or drive by, graduations, some have done virtual ones, and others hold out hope to also have some sort of traditional ceremony later this summer.

On this West Virginia Morning, we share a youth report on an athlete’s perseverance. We also hear about what high schools in West Virginia are doing about graduation ceremonies, and we check in with communities cleaning up after flooding this weekend.

Emily Allen / WVPB

West Virginia health officials say they are noticing several small coronavirus outbreaks linked to churches and an increased potential for disease spread in the state’s southern counties, even as the governor’s office allows more businesses to reopen week by week.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Appalachian String Band Music Festival, held each year in southern West Virginia, has been canceled this year because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. 

The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History made the announcement today.


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