Health & Science

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.

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.

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.

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. 

Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

 


It’s a sweltering hot Monday in Whitesburg, Kentucky, and the kitchen at Community Agricultural Nutritional Enterprises, or CANE, is buzzing with activity. 

In an industrial kitchen that was once a high school cafeteria, Brandon Fleming is chopping onions and sliding them into a massive aluminum tray of beans. Once the beans are in the oven, Fleming mops his brow and heads outside to the parking lot, where a small army of teenagers is loading bags and boxes of groceries into the trunks of waiting cars. 

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?

On this West Virginia Morning, we have stories about an award-winning fiddler, a special kind of fungi housed at West Virginia University, and we hear from a Kentucky voter who previously had her voting rights taken away due to a felony charge.

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.

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.

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.

Cordyceps, often called the zombie mushroom, is an elusive target for any mushroom hunter. Learn how to find this strange and valuable fungus with mushroom expert William Padilla-Brown!

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.

Edwin L. Wriston / West Virginia National Guard

As part of the state’s continuing efforts to provide COVID-19 testing opportunities for minorities and vulnerable populations, free testing is being offered in seven counties Friday June 12 and Saturday June 13. 

 

Sgt. Amouris Cos / U.S. Army National Guard


Coronavirus cases are on the rise in the Eastern Panhandle. Berkeley County has counted 22 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in the past three days. 

Berkeley County’s total number of positive cases, as of Friday morning, is 325 with 14 probable cases, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, and it has the highest number of positive cases in the state. 

On this West Virginia Morning, it's election season, and in West Virginia that used to mean everyone and their dead brother was casting a vote. Have times changed? We talk with a historian about voter fraud. Also, we hear a report on high numbers of cases of COVID-19 in the Eastern Panhandle, and we bring you this week’s Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

On this West Virginia Morning, we have a conversation with coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh. Also, we speak with Kentucky attorney and author Cassie Chambers about her memoir “Hill Women.”

Jesse Wright / WVPB

West Virginia University released preliminary plans Wednesday, June 3, detailing what the fall and spring semesters will look like as a result of the continued COVID-19 pandemic.

Students will return to campus and in-person classes will resume for WVU’s fall semester; however, it will look a bit different than pre-coronavirus.

Food is ready for loading and distribution the Facing Hunger Food Bank in Huntington, West Virginia..
Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting file photo

A new federal program is buying more than $1 billion in farm products such as dairy, produce and meat unable to be sold due to the pandemic’s disruptions to the food supply and send “food boxes'' to needy families. But some anti-hunger advocates worry that parts of the Ohio Valley may be overlooked in getting this aid.

Lexi Brown / 100 Days in Appalachia

In her 1988 research paper “The Social Context of ‘Nerves’ in Eastern Kentucky,” medical anthropologist Eileen VanSchaik wrote that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, women reporting “nerves” or “sick headaches” would turn to “doctor books” for advice on their “feminine nervous systems.” There they were cautioned, for example, of the danger of “nervous prostration, excitability, fainting spells, most likely organic diseases of the uterus or womb, and many other distressing female troubles.”

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