Report For America

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Advocates are renewing calls to test and reduce the state’s incarcerated population, as its jails are once again overcrowded and more than 100 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in a state prison.  

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia has charged a Pendleton County mail carrier, accusing him of tampering with eight absentee ballot applications. 

According to a criminal complaint filed on Tuesday, Thomas Cooper switched five of the applicants’ requests for a Democratic ballot to requests for a Republican ballot. He later told an investigator with the West Virginia attorney general’s office he did this “as a joke.”

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

Updated on May 26, 2020, at 10 p.m. with more recent data from the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

Eighty-four people have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Huttonsville Correctional Center, as the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation awaits hundreds more results from tests conducted Monday.

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner said Friday that an alleged absentee voter fraud scheme will not affect the state’s 2020 primary election results. 

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At least 27 people incarcerated at the Huttonsville Correctional Center and eight employees have tested positive this week for the coronavirus, according to the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. 

The West Virginia Supreme Court chamber.
West Virginia Judiciary

A handful of state lawmakers filed a petition with the state’s highest court on Friday, arguing that Gov. Jim Justice didn’t have the authority to issue executive orders opening and closing state businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

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A health care system serving six southern West Virginia counties received more than $900,000 to enhance its telehealth services.

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

Updated Thursday, May 21 at 10:30 a.m.

The West Virginia National Guard will begin its second round of free, drive-thru and walk-up testing, to reach minority and densely-populated communities on Friday, May 22.

Perry Bennett / WV Legislative Photography

A Nicholas County delegate has announced he is leaving his seat in the West Virginia House of Delegates, months before the 2020 general election.

Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beighto / West Virginia National Guard

In its first round of free testing aimed at reaching the state’s minority populations, the West Virginia National Guard tested at least 2,388 people in four densely populated communities.

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A second employee working for the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation has tested positive for the coronavirus, this time in Randolph County. 

A sign on the door of the polling place at Morgantown High School on Nov. 6, 2018, in the South Park neighborhood of Morgantown, W.Va.
Jesse Wright / WVPB

Days after the governor issued a stay home order on March 23, Secretary of State Mac Warner announced his office was opening absentee voting to all of the state’s roughly 1.2 million registered voters. 

Since then, nearly 18 percent of those registered so far, or 214,852 people, have requested an absentee ballot from their county clerks. 

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The Appalachian Regional Commission has announced $3.75 million for banks and other lenders who have lost money during this global coronavirus pandemic. 

U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. De-Juan Haley

State health officials report COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting West Virginia's African American community. A statewide commission on African American disparities during the COVID-19 crisis met for the first time on Monday to review the data.

U.S. BUREAU OF PRISONS / U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons is reporting five positive cases of COVID-19 at the Federal Correctional Institution in Gilmer County, West Virginia, less than two weeks after 124 out-of-state prisoners in quarantine were transferred to the state. 

Jesse Wright / 100 Days in Appalachia

This is a developing story that will be updated.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr has agreed to stop sending additional out-of-state prisoners to two West Virginia correctional facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Emily Allen / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Only eight months after launching West Virginia’s first family treatment court, Boone County Judge William Thompson said the coronavirus pandemic caused some drastic changes to the program.

Family treatment court is a “problem solving court.” Instead of punishing parents in the abuse and neglect system for their addiction, it connects them to treatment options and resources to improve their parenting.

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

Following a second infusion of federal funding, the number of loans to small businesses in West Virginia has doubled, as employers nationally continue to deal with the economic impact of a global pandemic. 


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. 


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This story was updated on April 24, 2020, at 12:30 p.m.

The West Virginia Supreme Court agreed on Thursday to dismiss a request that would’ve required the state to release 39 incarcerated individuals. The request was made by criminal justice reform advocates in response to fears of a coronavirus outbreak in the state’s correctional institutions, which have historically faced overcrowded conditions.

Williamson, W.Va., seen across the border from Kentucky.
Tyler Evert / Associated Press

The Williamson Memorial Hospital in Mingo County is prepared to close on Tuesday, while a local health center finalizes plans to purchase the institution.

Kara Lofton / WVPB

Even after the information was made public earlier this month by a science and technology magazine, a debate continues in the West Virginia Public Service Commission as to whether commissioners should make fully public a lengthy audit into state’s main landline provider. 

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West Virginia corrections officials this week released a redacted version of its policy for handling and preventing COVID-19 in the state’s jails, prisons and other correctional facilities.

Kara Lofton / WVPB

West Virginia’s main landline phone provider filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy late on Tuesday.

The request, filed by Frontier Communications in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York, is waiting on approval from a federal judge.

Kara Lofton / WVPB

A fully unredacted version of an audit of the state’s main privately-run, state-regulated landline provider was made public by a science and technology website Thursday, indicating the phone company faces a serious shrinking customer and revenue base in the Mountain state. 

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The number of inmates in West Virginia’s overcrowded criminal justice system has declined over the last few weeks, as prosecutors throughout the state identify low-risk inmates eligible for parole. 

But several groups are still calling on the state to do more, to further reduce its incarcerated population and ensure that staff and inmates have the appropriate space and supplies to protect themselves against COVID-19.

The long-awaited results of an investigation into Frontier Communications, the state’s primary landline provider, finds the company isn’t doing enough preventative maintenance work on its copper cable network for landline phones in West Virginia. 

Williamson, W.Va., seen across the border from Kentucky.
Tyler Evert / Associated Press

A local health center has plans to buy the Williamson Memorial Hospital in Mingo County after the hospital announced Monday plans to close at some point in April.

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Medical experts have spent years promoting telehealth as an option for rural areas with little access to in-person care.

Now, after West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice issued a “stay home” order that took effect on Tuesday, March 24, some medical providers are offering telehealth as a way to keep more people healthy at home during the coronavirus. 

Voters enter the polling place at Morgantown High School on Nov. 6, 2018, in the South Park neighborhood of Morgantown, W.Va.
Jesse Wright / WVPB

All registered voters will receive an absentee ballot application for the May 12 primary, according to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office on Thursday. 

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