Report For America

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. 

photo courtesy of WVU Medicine

Testing for the coronavirus is beginning to ramp up in West Virginia. On Thursday, the state Department of Health and Human Resources reported 224 people have been tested total, between the state public health lab and commercial labs.  

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

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources reported three additional cases of the coronavirus Thursday night.  

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

A second West Virginia resident has tested positive for coronavirus, one day after the governor confirmed the state’s first positive case.  

Jeff Gentner / AP Photo

 


As other states announce plans to delay primary elections over the concern of the growing coronavirus pandemic, West Virginia still plans to hold elections Tuesday, May 12. 

West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Internet providers, including some serving West Virginia, are signing a 60-day pledge with the Federal Communications Commission to continue serving customers affected by state and federal coronavirus precautions. 

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

West Virginia senators passed a bill from the House of Delegates on Friday, in an attempt to reform various aspects of the state’s overwhelmed foster care system

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A bill for foster care reform in the West Virginia Legislature was amended further Wednesday night, before it was sent to the full Senate for consideration. 

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A committee in the West Virginia Senate has passed a bipartisan bill from the House of Delegates that would reform the foster care system, but not without significant amendments to the bill’s financial items. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A committee in the West Virginia House of Delegates narrowly voted against passing a Republican bill to protect West Virginians with preexisting conditions, should a federal law currently providing these rights be repealed. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A bill to create an intermediate court of appeals in West Virginia passed the House Judiciary Committee Friday with a few noteworthy changes and, ultimately, a favorable recommendation.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

In honor of Crossover Day, the deadline for legislators to pass their bills out of their respective chambers and send them to the next body for consideration, West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s legislative team is taking a step back to review where some of the bill’s we’ve been monitoring stand now. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Shortly before the full House was scheduled to vote on it, members of the chamber’s Rules Committee voted to remove a ‘Ban the Box’ bill from the agenda, effectively killing the bill for the session. 

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The West Virginia Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that seeks to protect West Virginians with preexisting health conditions, in the event the federal law that currently provides those protections is repealed. 

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