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Ramsey: CAMC in ‘financial never-never land’ with coronavirus impact

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The president and CEO of Charleston Area Medical Center says his hospital is currently in a “financial never-never land” with the impact of the coronavirus.

CAMC

David Ramsey

Dave Ramsey, a guest Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline,” said the threat of the surge involving the virus has caused a 30 percent decrease in CAMC’s daily census and a 50 percent decrease in daily medical procedures. Both of which are important revenue sources for CAMC and the four hospitals it operates, Ramsey said.

“The fact that we’re not doing elective procedures to save on PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and then the fact that people are just staying home,” Ramsey said. “They’re not out in activities on a daily basis. They’re not exerting themselves. They’re not driving very much. So a lot of people don’t need our services,”

Ramsey said it takes $3,3 million a day to operate CAMC but right now the hospital is bringing in about $2 million a day. CAMC has asked workers to take some days off and to share work to cut down on hours. The hospital also has a reserve fund which would cover the costs of about 140 days. Ramsey said they hope they don’t have to keep dipping into their reserves.

“That’s why we’re taking these steps now (cutting hours) in order to preserve that reserve as long as we can,” Ramsey said.

.@CAMCHealth President and CEO Dave Ramsey joins @HoppyKercheval to discuss how CAMC is handling COVID-19. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/0XtPWuujND

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) April 2, 2020

The stimulus package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump last week includes increases in Medicare reimbursements for hospitals in several areas. Ramsey said that will help but it’s only expected to be about $6 million for his hospital plus the additional money for treating coronavirus patients. CAMC had eight patients in-house as of Thursday afternoon. It has treated 42 coronavirus patients on an outpatient basis. The hospital has had 1763 negative tests with six pending.

CAMC eliminated elective procedures more than two weeks ago in connection with Centers for Disease Control recommendations. Gov. Jim Justice signed an executive order this week mandating the elimination statewide.

Justice said Thursday he’s very aware of the revenue flow problems the hospitals are facing.

“We get all of that but the issue today is the supplies and protective gear for all of those who are out there going without that,” Justice said. “I’m very hopeful we can lift that as soon as we can lift it but today we’ve got to conserve those supplies as much as possible.”

Ramsey said CAMC is ready for a possible surge of coronavirus patients. He said there’s no excuse for the United States struggling with supplies and equipment to battle the virus.

“It’s a tragedy in my opinion that we as a nation have not been able to get the ventilators, get the testing equipment, get the PPE that’s really needed to ensure health care workers’ safety and patients’ safety as well,” Ramsey said.

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Three Guys Before The Game – Clay Marsh Visits (Episode 194)

To use a sports analogy, the state of West Virginia is still very early in the game when it comes to battling the coronavirus.

On this episode the “Guys” spend time with the man overseeing West Virginia’s battle against COVID-19

Dr. Clay Marsh provides invaluable insight into the state’s current situation and looks ahead to what transformations the virus will ultimately bring.

Brad Howe, Tony Caridi and Hoppy Kercheval also answer an assortment of listener questions ranging from sports to movies.

The “Guys” return Monday with a new episode.

Text or leave a voicemail for the show anytime at 304-404-4083.

Support the show by wearing Three Guys merchandise.

Never miss an episode, subscribe below.

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Source: WV MetroNews

Why football season is a must for WVU and other major programs

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — By the time this autumn rolls around, football season will be a must for a sports-starved public.

But even they won’t need it as much as the academic institutions who have invested in college football.

“It’s a whole new ballgame if we find ourselves not playing football because it affects everything we do,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said last week. “It affects the largest portion of our TV contract, and it affects the largest source of campus revenue, which is live gate.

“So anything that I say regarding finances, it has to make the assumption that we’re going to be back to playing football in the fall. If that doesn’t happen, then the underpinning of what we’ve known as normal goes away and we’ll have major changes to make.”

Take West Virginia, which had overall athletic revenues of $102.6 million in 2018 compared to $91.8 million in expenses. If football was removed from that equation in 2020 on top of the money already lost from the cancellation of the NCAA tournament, there would be dire consequences for WVU’s budget.

“It would be catastrophic,” Mountaineers athletic director Shane Lyons said in a Wednesday night appearance on MetroNews Sportsline. “You’re talking about $38 million that is TV revenue you get from the networks to air games. The conference gets anywhere from $350-400 million to distribute to the 10 schools in the Big 12.

“If the games are not played, and therefore you don’t have the TV revenue, then you’re looking at approximately $30 million. Then from a season ticket standpoint, about $16 million. So you’re looking at over a $50 million hit from a financial standpoint if football isn’t played.”

And that’s just the known money. Logic would dictate that some program donors would also have less money to donate with more important financial matters to tend to, such as ravaged retirement accounts.

Perhaps that explains why Lyons is so inclined to maintain a positive attitude that the COVID-19 epidemic will dissipate by the end of the summer. The decisions he would be forced to make if his budget was sliced in half would be uncomfortable, to say the least.

“I’m optimistic we will play football come September and preseason will start on time in August,” Lyons said on a Wednesday media teleconference. “Our projections, based upon the medical experts, they feel once we get to late summer, the August area, normal life will hopefully be back all across the US. That’s kind of our hope.”

That doesn’t mean there won’t be a potential downturn in revenue. The possibility of playing in front of limited or entirely eliminated crowds is still on the table. So is a potential shortened season.

But even that would be a more manageable situation than the doomsday scenario that does not include football.

“What it looks like for the public and ticket sales, that’s still early on to project that,” Lyons said. “Right now there’s a lot of people out of jobs, that’s unfortunate. The pandemic won’t go away over night. There’s a number of factors we’ll have to look at that we don’t have at this point.”

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Soccer tournament cancellations significant loss for Barboursville, Kanawha Valley

BARBOURSVILLE, W.Va. — The hits keep coming to local economies around West Virginia during the COVID-19 pandemic with cancellations and closures.

The areas of the Barboursville Soccer Complex and the Shawnee Sports Complex in Dunbar are the latest to feel the impact with the cancellation of the multiple United States Youth Soccer events scheduled for this summer at the respective facilities.

The US Youth Soccer organization made the announcement this week for its events including the Eastern Presidents Cup slated for June 19-23, and the Eastern Regional Tournament scheduled for June 26-July 2.

The events hosted by the complexes in 2019 resulted in hotels booked from Clendenin to Ashland, Kentucky, Barboursville Mayor Chris Tatum told MetroNews. He said there will be an economic loss to the area of $15 to $20 million.

Village of Barboursville

Chris Tatum

“I think it’s unfortunate but it’s necessary for the safety and well-being of thousands of people right now. I hate to see the area lose out on those tourism dollars but at the same time with everything going on, it was a wise decision,” Tatum said.

In 2019, just the Eastern Regional Tournament brought around 4,500 athletes on 260 teams from 13 states to the area. The teams in the tournament traveled from a dozen states including Maine, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

The 2021 US Youth Soccer events have already been booked, which includes the Eastern Presidents Cup in West Virginia from June 19-23, 2021. The 2021 regional is slated for New Jersey but Tatum is hopeful the soccer association will consider West Virginia for host sites in 2022.

Barboursville has hosted the regionals in 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2016 but Tatum said having Shawnee open was a gamechanger that has brought more tournaments to the pair of complexes.

Tatum further told MetroNews that there is a silver lining in the situation and it includes more time to complete a $1.8 million investment at the Barboursville complex including synthetic turf, lighting upgrades and other improvements.

He said crews will put the finishing touches on the improvements when the stay-at-home orders are clear and more federal guidelines are lifted. The scheduled improvements have attracted more interest in complex use for other sports and that is how Tatum hopes to make up for part of the loss with US Youth Soccer.

“This virus is not an end-all, be-all,” he said. “It’s a transition point and hopefully one that helps us all grow in some way.

“More importantly when it’s back to normal, we are doing what we are known to do.”

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Source: WV MetroNews

Legislative leaders ask Justice to close schools for the year, Justice says not yet

Legislative leaders from both parties are asking Gov. Jim Justice to keep children out of schools for the rest of the year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a news briefing a couple of hours later, Justice declined the request, saying that decision doesn’t have to be made yet.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, and House Minority Leader Tim Miley, D-Harrison, today delivered a letter to Justice to request that he initiate the necessary actions to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

“This move is necessary and makes good sense,” the four wrote.

Just yesterday, Justice pushed back the return to school buildings to April 30. The governor said he still has hope students could return, if only for a few weeks.

“I’m not going to shoot in the dark, and I’m not going to do something that denies our kids hope,” Justice said today. “I’m not willing to throw the towel in yet.”

The legislative leaders wrote that families, teachers, service personnel, and the public in general would benefit from receiving certainty about the end of the academic year, and would allow preparations for next year to begin without the cloud of the pandemic hanging over them.

They proposed erring on the side of caution.

“Current public health modeling projections suggest the COVID-19 virus will peak during the first week of May in West Virginia. Based upon these projections, we believe it would be wise to fall on the side of caution and keep students at home for the remainder of the 2020 school year rather than risk sending our children into potentially hazardous and untenable learning environments,” the letter states.



Legis School Cancellation Letter to Gov (Text)

Data analysis of all 50 states by The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which is affiliated with the University of Washington, predicts that West Virginia will reach peak use of resources to cope with the virus in early May.

That model anticipates 16 coronavirus-related deaths per day in West Virginia at peak and 495 total deaths in West Virginia over the course of the outbreak.

The letter from legislative leaders also notes that the May primary election has been rescheduled to avoid potential public health risks of crowds gathering.

“The gathering of numerous children and adults in close proximity in a school setting for extended periods is equally risky, if not more so,” the legislative leaders wrote.

Justice today said the Primary Election is different because a decision needs to be made so far in advance.

“What about if toward the end of April things start looking much better? We have to make a decision today about extending an election,” Justice said. “We don’t have to make a decision today about closing school until the end of the year.”

 

Justice originally ordered schools be shut down from March 16 to 27. Last week, he announced that closure would be extended by another three weeks to April 20.

Then Wednesday, he added about two weeks to the end of the month, saying that would align with federal social distancing guidelines.

West Virginia Department of Education

State Superintendent Clayton Burch

During the news briefing today, state schools Superintendent Clayton Burch said the education system doesn’t take the April 30 date lightly.

“In fact we have risen to the challenge,” Burch said.

Burch said he admires Justice’s optimism to get at least a few weeks of the school year in. “We want to save that time at the end that if you can see your friends, see your teacher,” Burch said.

The legislative leaders wrote that social distancing guidelines from the coronavirus pandemic has re-emphasized the need for West Virginia’s schools to deploy distanced-based learning tools and the ability to teach students via video feed and other technological channels.

“The critical need for reliable, world-class broadband service is a vital element of this educational methodology. We challenge ourselves and call upon all other state and local leaders to facilitate the rapid deployment and/or enhancement of technology infrastructure in the West Virginia public education system with the goal of delivering superior educational content in a distance learning environment,” the letter states.

Speaking Thursday morning on MetroNews’ “Talkline,” Burch said educators are getting better with practice at helping students while away from school buildings.

“You’re seeing a transition from distance instruction to distance engagement,” Burch said. “We know that to go four to six weeks of distance learning in an emergency crisis, some counties were more prepared than others.”

Under those conditions, Burch said, it’s unrealistic to think students will be mastering significant new content.

“The skills need to stay sharp, they need to stay engaged,” he said.

State School Superintendent Clayton Burch speaks with @HoppyKercheval about the continued closing of school until April 30. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/TAQU99MlRj

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) April 2, 2020

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Federal charge filed against doctor accused of groping patients at Veterans Affairs hospital

A federal complaint has been filed against a doctor accused of sexually assaulting patients at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Beckley.

Jonathan Yates

Dr. Jonathan Yates was charged with deprivation of rights under color of law, which refers to actions the doctor took beyond his authority, resulting in bodily injury and including kidnapping. He was arrested this morning.

Allegations of sexual assault have circulated for months. Yates was previously named by more than 30 patients who collectively filed a complaint with the West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine.

Mike Stuart

U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said today on MetroNews “Talkline” that the federal investigation started last June.

The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of West Virginia. Yates was set for an initial appearance this afternoon, probably via video.

“Veteran 1, as we identified him, was effectively sexually molested,” said Stuart, who suggested additional charges could be filed.

“It is a serious charge, and we take this incredibly seriously.”

.@USAttyStuart talks with @HoppyKercheval about charges against a Beckley Doctor for sexual assault at the VA hospital in Beckley. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/VcqcTxi2L0

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) April 2, 2020

This week’s federal filing includes an affidavit by Special Agent Michael Moyer of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Moyer describes the experiences of several patients who described unwanted contact while under the care of Yates.

Yates is a doctor of osteopathic medicine and started serving as the Whole Health Director at the medical center in April 2018. He no longer works there.

Moyer interviewed multiple veterans under Yates’ care, as well as a doctor who worked directly alongside Yates. The affidavit focuses on the experiences of a 42-year-old male veteran of the U.S. Army who went to see Yates about chronic back pain, as well as pain in his toes, fingers and hips.

The veteran, who wanted a referral to continue with massage therapy treatments, went to see Yates in February, 2019. At the start of the appointment, the two entered an examination room and Yates locked the door.

The veteran said Yates made several comments about his muscle tone, commented on his chest hair and called him a real man.

Later, the doctor told the veteran to remove his boxer briefs and commented “Boxer briefs — my favorite. Keeps everything tight and in place.” As the veteran was taking off the briefs, according to the affidavit, Yates grabbed the briefs and pulled them all the way down.

The affidavit then describes the doctor rubbing the veteran’s lower body with an ungloved hand, repeatedly telling the patient “it was okay to be sexually aroused by this contact.”

The veteran described pain as the doctor massaged a sensitive area. The doctor also began to massage the patient’s buttocks, according to the affidavit, the veteran told him to stop, and “Dr. Yates appeared irritated, stopped, and smacked VETERAN 1’s buttocks.”

The visit continued with the doctor cracking the patient’s neck even though the veteran had earlier stated that he could not have his neck cracked because of the ongoing medical issues.

“The pain was excruciating. I felt it all over my body,” the patient wrote in his own statement that was filed in federal court. “He was not supposed to do this. I made it clear from the beginning of this session that he was not to crack my neck. I was in shock, could not even speak.”

Under that immobilized condition, the patient reported, the doctor began the unwanted massaging again.

“He was essentially groping me,” the veteran wrote in his own statement.

When the appointment finally ended, the veteran wrote, “I walked to my car as fast as I could, despite my pain. I went to the gas station bathroom and used multiple sanitary wipes because I felt dirty after that encounter.”

Interviews and written statements by other veterans who sought medical help describe similar experiences.

Moyer, the investigator, also interviewed a doctor who worked with Yates. The doctor said Yates told him, “I’m not able to explore the things I’d like to with some of the guys because I’m a married man and my wife wouldn’t understand.”

Another doctor who is an expert in osteopathic manipulative therapy, the kind of medicine practiced by Yates, said the VA doctor’s methods went beyond the bounds of what is normal practice.

For example, “Generally, OMT is performed on a fully-clothed patient or on a patient with just their shirt removed.”

Also, the expert “opined that, based on his training and experience, slapping a patient on the buttocks is not legitimate medical treatment.”


Yates Complaint (Text)

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Deadly crash reported in Charleston

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — One person was killed in a single vehicle crash in Charleston Thursday morning.

Authorities said the wreck occurred on state Route 114 near Capital High School at around 9 a.m.

The vehicle took out a utility pole. Traffic was expected to be slowed for several hours.

The name of the victim was not immediately released. Charleston police are investigating.

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Video, updates: Justice plans 1 p.m. news briefing

We’ll provide updates here about how West Virginia is preparing for the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. 

State officials have directed members of the public to a landing page dedicated to information about coronavirus in West Virginia.

Additional information can be found at CDC’s Situation Summary or at DHHR’s COVID-19 information hotline, 1-800-887-4304.

8:42 a.m. Thursday 4/2/2020 Justice plans 1 p.m. news briefing 

Here is one place to watch: https://t.co/lsGjTP6Xb0

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) April 2, 2020

11:00 p.m. Wednesday 4/1/2020 Monongahela National Forest enforces social distancing

The Monongahela National Forest has closed recreational sites and mandated a limitation of 10 people or fewer in activities.

The change affects all developed campgrounds, developed day-use areas, middle mountain cabin and bathroom facilities, as well as roadside camping sites along the Cranberry and Williams rivers.

Other recreation opportunities remain open to the public, including hiking, backpacking and fishing. Visitors are asked to follow federal guidelines before and during their visit.

The U.S. Forest Services also advises campers to not camp in the same location for more than 14 consecutive days. Campers must move at least five road-miles away from the site, which they cannot return to until after 21 days.

10:00 p.m. Wednesday 4/1/2020 Sheetz launching free children meals program

Sheetz will launch a free meal program on Thursday for children and families in need.

The Kidz Meal Bagz program will be available all day. Families interested should aks an employee at the register for a meal, which will be available while supplies last.

Families will be offered one meal per child.

The meal program will be offered at all Sheetz locations in West Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania for the next two weeks. The company will evaluate the program after this period and determine its future.

9:30 p.m. Wednesday 4/1/2020 Marshall changes grading system, allowing students to only receive credit

Marshall University is allowing students to receive credit for courses rather than relying on the traditional grading system for the spring semester.

Letter grades of A, B or C will translate into receiving credit, while a final grade of D or F will result in no credits earned. Only credit-received grades will count toward graduation, but all grades will not affect semester or cumulative GPAs.

Students will have to participate in all course activities, including assessments, throughout the remainder of the semester.

Students have until April 24 to opt in the grading change, and the changes can be done on a course-by-course basis.

9:16 a.m. Wednesday 4/1/2020 Justice plans 11 a.m. briefing

Wednesday’s ⁦@WVGovernor⁩ briefing is 11 am pic.twitter.com/2cjorYp714

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 31, 2020

12:10 a.m. Wednesday 4/1/2020 Bureau for Children and Families receive SNAP waivers

The federal government has granted the state Bureau for Children and Families two waivers for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The waivers provide an extension to the program’s renewal program for individuals eligible for review in March, April or May. The extension is for six months.

The waivers also allow a supplemental payment to households approved for benefits before April and increases benefits to the maximum allowable amount for each month.

10:30 p.m. Tuesday 3/31/2020 Members of Congress ask Trump to quickly review disaster request

West Virginia’s federal lawmakers sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Tuesday asking him to expedite a request for a statewide major disaster declaration.

Gov. Jim Justice requested such a declaration on March 13.

The legislators said the declaration will allow better support for testing, the West Virginia National Guard and ensuring children have food.

“It is our goal to support and help you in your efforts to contain this virus and to ensure the health and safety of our fellow citizens,” they wrote. “We have a lot to do together and this declaration enables us to achieve the greatest impact for the largest number of people in the fastest way possible.”

8:00 p.m. Tuesday 3/31/2020 Justice signs executive order on medical procedures, prescriptions

Gov. Jim Justice has signed an executive order suspending several regulations about the coronavirus response.

The West Virginia Board of Nursing and the West Virginia Board of Medicine urged for the executive order, which waives requirements on certain medical procedures as well as suspends the requirement of anesthesia. The order also allows physicians with a pre-existing relationship with a patient to refill an existing Schedule II opioid medication without an in-person examination.

Schedule II opioids include methadone, oxycodone and fentanyl.

Physicians are still required to evaluate patients and determine if refilling the prescription is appropriate.

7:40 p.m. Tuesday 3/31/2020 WVABCA issues guidance to liquor stores

The West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration is advising retail liquor stores to enforce social distancing and limit the number of people congregating in store.

The warning from the organization in light of reports of West Virginians and out-of-state people purchasing liquor.

The administration also advises limiting liquor sales to three to four bottles a person, as well as installing plexiglass separation shields between cashiers and consumers.

8:26 a.m. Tuesday 3/31/2020 Justice briefing set for 2 p.m.

Today’s @WVgovernor briefing is at 2 pm pic.twitter.com/AGkG6GD5IT

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 31, 2020

11:10 p.m. Monday 3/30/2020 PSC drops bulky goods requirement

The Public Service Commission of West Virginia is temporarily waiving the requirement that solid waster carriers collect bulky goods.

Collecting bulky items requires additional trips and special equipment, which could divert resources from solid trash collection.

The commission said all collected waste can be limited to items placed in closed bags.

10:30 p.m. Monday 3/30/2020 Youth Environmental Day canceled

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has canceled the annual Youth Environmental Day at North Bend State Park.

The event, scheduled for May 16, would have marked its 57th consecutive year this spring.

Hundreds of youth group members are recognized annually for their projects aimed at improving the state’s environment and communities.

Projects will be judged and winners will receive recognition in a format to be discussed later. More than $15,000 in cash awards is presented annually to winners.

9:30 p.m. Monday 3/30/2020 Marshall changes GPA requirements for scholarships

Marshall University is changing its GPA requirement for merit-based scholarship renewals.

The institution announced Monday it has reduced the minimum criteria for current students, lowering the overall GPA level for enrolled first-year students from 2.75 to 2.5. Other undergraduate students will have to meet a 2.75 GPA compared to the current 3.0 GPA requirement.

Students will still be required to earn 30 credit hours a year.

1:00 p.m.  Monday 3/30/2020  Huntington mayor says police will be used to enforce stay-at-home order

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams announced Monday police officers will be used to break-up any large gatherings of people in his city that are in violation of Gov. Jim Justice’s stay-at-home order.

“This is a crucial time when every single individual in our community plays a vital role in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic,” Williams said in a news release. “That means staying at home and following the proper social distancing recommendations if you and/or your family members leave your home for any of the permitted purposes in Gov. Justice’s order. We simply are not going to tolerate blatant disregard for the order. Doing so creates a pubic health hazard and not only places our community at risk, but it places at risk all of our health care professionals and first responders.”

Williams said the order covers public and private gatherings.

.@huntingtonmayor reminds the public that the Huntington Police Department WILL enforce @WVGovernor‘s executive stay-at-home order for any nonessential business that is still operating and any large social gatherings outside scope of the order. More: https://t.co/1Y5kSrBcMc

— Huntington, WV (@huntingtoncity) March 30, 2020


12:45 p.m. Monday 3/30/2020  Kanawha County Commission expresses concern over approaching May 12 election

The Kanawha County Commission announced Monday that it has sent a letter to Secretary of State Mac Warner in connection with the safety of poll workers in the Primary Election.

“Yesterday, the President of the United States confirmed what I have said since we made our first announcement on March 13th. I predicted this would last a minimum of 8 weeks and the federal government has extended social distancing guidelines until April 30. In West Virginia, we could be hitting our peak on May 1st, during early voting. While I fully support the voting process and excising our right to vote, I have to voice my deep concern for our poll workers and county employees,” Carper said.

Warner has said it does support moving the election.

Carper expresses concerns over safety of poll workers with primary date fast approaching pic.twitter.com/GQvR9SPcWM

— Kanawha County (@kanawhaus) March 30, 2020

10:07 a.m. Monday 3/30/20 Justice plans 2 p.m. update

Today’s ⁦@WVGovernor⁩ briefing set for 2 pm pic.twitter.com/K7etTDMPWR

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 30, 2020

09:00 a.m. Saturday 03/28/2020  Clarksburg VA to close outpatient clinics for now

The Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg has announced its outpatient clinics will temporarily close beginning Monday in connection with concerns over the coronavirus.

The community outpatient clincs are located in Braxton, Monongalia, Tucker and Wood counties.

10:20 a.m. Friday 3/27/2020 DHHR offers behavioral health support

  • For those seeking behavioral health support, citizens can call or text 844-HELP4WV (844-435-7498).
  • HELP4WV offers a 24/7 call, chat and text line that provides immediate help for any West Virginian struggling with an addiction or mental health issue.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available by calling 800-273-TALK (8255). The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.
  • The National Disaster Distress Helpline is accessible by calling 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
  • The Disaster Distress Helpline is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster.
  • West Virginia 211 is available by calling 2-1-1 or text your zip code to 898-211. Every day hundreds of people across West Virginia turn to 211 for information and support—whether financial, domestic, health or disaster.
  • West Virginia’s comprehensive behavioral health centers are open and offer an array of services for children and adults.

10:19 a.m. Friday 3/27/2020 Justice announces 3 p.m. briefing 

Today’s briefing is at 3 pm pic.twitter.com/phUGqEBn6g

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 27, 2020

10 p.m. Thursday 3/26/2020 Powerball changes game as many players stuck at home

Powerball is continuing its game with changes as many players remain at their homes under stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders.

Following the next Grand Prize winner, the starting jackpot will reset to $20 million with minimum roll increases of $2 million between drawings.

Drawings are still scheduled for Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:59 p.m.

8:55 p.m. Thursday 3/26/2020 DMV extends period on driver, vehicle transactions

Motorists will have an extra 90 days to get their driver and vehicle registrations updated.

The state Division of Highways has extended the expiration date of all documents to expire this month or April for three months from the date of expiration because of the coronavirus.

Many DMV transactions can be done online as well, including driver’s license renewal, requesting a duplicate driver’s license, updating vehicle registration and checking the status of a driver’s license.

8:35 p.m. Thursday 3/26/2020 UMWA asks for increased protections, help for coal miners

The United Mine Workers of America is asking for the U.S. Mine Safety Administration to increase protections for coal miners during the coronavirus pandemic.

International President Cecil Roberts said because coal miners often engage with their colleagues in confined spaces, which could present health challenges.

Roberts also stressed the impact of COVID-19 on coal miners with black lung disease and other pulmonary conditions.

“These miners are considered ‘high risk’ and are often located in rural areas that do not provide the same access to health care centers as workers in urban areas,” he said. “This makes miners one of the most vulnerable populations for the virus.”

7:45 p.m. Thursday 3/26/2020 West Virginia 211 continuing service amid pandemic

West Virginia 211 is reminded West Virginians about its services amid the coronavirus pandemic.

While many local groups have formed to assist people with various health-related matters, West Virginia 211 cautions people against groups seeking financial contributions with little self-reporting.

The group said Thursday calls are answered 24/7, and staff can connect callers to various resources, including food pantries, health care options and addiction.

People can call 211 or text their ZIP code to 898-211 for more information.

10 a.m. Thursday 3/26/2020 Justice plans noon briefing

Time change to 1 pm on ⁦@WVGovernor⁩ briefing pic.twitter.com/Rrn2R03iK7

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 26, 2020

10:40 p.m. Wednesday 3/25/2020 Concord University student diagnosed with coronavirus

A Concord University student has a confirmed case of the coronavirus, the university announced Wednesday.

The student, who was not identified, returned to campus on March 16 during the institution’s extended spring break period. Few people were on campus at the time.

The student left on March 18. He informed resident officials on Tuesday about the confirmed case.

Local and state health authorities are aware of the situation. Officials have cleaned areas possible exposed to the virus as well as quarantined individuals known to have had contact with the student.

Staff at the Concord University Health Center are monitoring the health of students that remain on campus.

Any student with flu-like symptoms is being referred to Princeton Community Hospital for testing.

10:00 p.m. Wednesday 3/25/2020 Division of Highways implements new schedule, divides workers into two groups

The West Virginia Division of Highways has a plan in place to allow services for essential roadwork and emergencies during the coronavirus pandemic.

Transportation workers have been divided into two groups; one group will telework from home while the second group will take part in roadwork and emergency response efforts. The groups will shift schedules after two weeks.

Bridge inspections are continuing, but specialized crews will not be traveling across the state at this time.

Transportation Secretary Byrd White and Deputy Secretary Jimmy Wriston are working on location as necessary, as are other employees deemed essential. Many other employees are teleworking from home, and large training events and conferences are on hold.

9:30 p.m. Wednesday 3/25/2020 PSC, utilities discuss coronavirus course of action

Utility company representatives and the Public Service Commission of West Virginia discussed operations and best practices during the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday in a conference call.

Commission members asked utilities about their plans for providing services as well as protecting workers.

Companies represented in the call included American Electric Power, AT&T, First Energy, Frontier, Hope Gas, Mountaineer Gas, Suddenlink and West Virginia American Water.

Company representatives agreed not to disconnect customers, and numerous procedures have been put into place to protect employees and contractors who are working.

1:06 p.m. Wednesday 3/25/20 State legislative leaders ask for extension of West Virginia tax deadline

A formal letter was sent to Gov. Jim Justice today from Senate President Mitch Carmichael, Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso, House Speaker Roger Hanshaw and House Minority Leader Tim Miley as well as Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair and House Finance Chairman Eric Householder.

The federal income tax deadline has been extended already, and during press conferences over the past couple of weeks Governor Justice has indicated the state is also considering an extension but he has not yet confirmed a final decision.

.⁦@wvlegislature⁩ leaders make formal request to delay state tax filing day pic.twitter.com/71MvCBCb6n

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 25, 2020

1:03 p.m.Wednesday 3/25/20 Governor Justice to provide briefing at 3 p.m.

12:58 p.m.Wednesday 3/25/20 AARP sponsors tele-Town Hall with West Virginia health leaders 

At 1 p.m. ET, we go LIVE with our @AARPWV #COVID19 Tele-Town Hall on the #coronavirus situation in the Mountain State with @WVGovernor @WV_DHHR @KCHealth1. Join our event online and interact at https://t.co/qIKgVJiGiD pic.twitter.com/uND4tqIa18

— AARP West Virginia (@AARPWV) March 25, 2020

8:25 a.m. Wednesday 3/25/20 West Virginians participate in Day of Prayer 

Gov. Jim Justice and West Virginia spiritual leaders are conducting a service for today’s Day of Prayer.

The service is meant to be “virtual,” with West Virginians maintaining social distancing while watching and listening.

“I really urge everyone to watch it and surely pray with us,” Justice stated. “God above will hear us. He will be the one to get us through this.”

12:30 p.m. 03/24/2020 West Virginia Lottery closes validations office

The West Virginia Lottery announced Tuesday that its validations office at Lottery headquarters in Charleston will close for walk-in customers beginning Wednesday, March 25. Players with winning tickets can mail them to the lottery.

* Sign the back of your ticket, and mail it to West Virginia Lottery/Claims, P.O. Box 2913, Charleston, WV 25330. Be sure to include a mailing address and daytime telephone number.

* If the prize is more than $600, you will need to include a photocopy of your driver’s license or government-issued photo ID and a copy of your social security card.

All West Virginia Lottery drawings will continue during the stay-in-home order.

12:15 p.m. 03/24/2020 Huntington Mall closing during stay-at-home order

Huntington Mall has announced its closing temporarily in connection with the stay-at-home, non-essential business shutdown order.

The mall will closed beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Mall officials said several stores on the property will stay open. Also restaurants on the mall property plan to continue to offer carry-out and drive-thru services.

9:34 a.m. Tuesday 3/24/2020 Justice sets 3 p.m. briefing

Today’s ⁦@WVGovernor⁩ briefing set for 3 pm pic.twitter.com/HN6Eiziq1Y

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 24, 2020

1:35 p.m.Monday 3/23/2020 Justice issues stay-home order

NEWS https://t.co/Bm9LIPRDYU

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 23, 2020

I have issued a “stay at home” order for all of WV. We need to continue to work together to slow the spread of #COVID19. This order asks West Virginians to stay at home and limit movements outside beyond essential needs. Visit https://t.co/oYGVnnqjLf for more details. #StayHomeWV pic.twitter.com/HTBTVVh9us

— Governor Jim Justice (@WVGovernor) March 23, 2020



WV stay-at-home order (Text)

10:31 a.m. Monday 3/23/2020 Justice briefing moved to 1 p.m.

🚨 Now 1 pm 🚨 pic.twitter.com/URzcd0XHxT

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 23, 2020

One place to see the briefing is here.

10:19 a.m. Monday 3/23/2020 Delegates urge governor to avoid in-person voting in upcoming primary 

Delegates Barbara Evans Fleischauer and Evan Hansen wrote Governor Jim Justice and state leaders today urging that instead of allowing in-person voting for early voting and primary election day, currently scheduled for May 12, 2020, that absentee ballots be distributed to all registered voters.



Fleischauer Hansen Letter to Governor (Text)

10:21 p.m. Sunday 3/22/2020 Washington Post reports on coronavirus response in West Virginia

reporting from Grant County https://t.co/NK3fkSdJhp

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 23, 2020

8:11 p.m. Sunday 3/22/2020 Next Justice update set for 11 a.m. Monday 

“I have scheduled my next media briefing for tomorrow at 11 a.m. Any further actions will be announced at that time.” pic.twitter.com/bvt536ob8x

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 22, 2020

Updated statistics from the state Department of Health and Human Resources showed West Virginia with 16 confirmed cases. The newest four were in Jefferson, Monongalia and Kanawha counties.

Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin and Kanawha County Commissioners Kent Carper, Hoppy Shores and Ben Salango sent a letter to Governor Justice asking for a stay-home order. Salango is running in the Democratic primary for governor.



Letter to Governor Re Stay in Place (Text)

On Sunday, contiguous states Ohio and Kentucky each announced stay-home orders for citizens. Pennsylvania last week issued a closure order for all but “life-sustaining” businesses.

This is basically a “shelter-in-place” order at this point, he’s just not calling it that.

— Daniel Desrochers (@drdesrochers) March 22, 2020

BREAKING: Governor announces that Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton has signed a “stay at home” (aka shelter in place) order in Ohio.

— Jake Zuckerman (@jake_zuckerman) March 22, 2020

10:00 p.m. 3/21/20  CAMC seeks public’s help in making masks

Calling those who sew! Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). CAMC is asking volunteers who have the ability to sew to make masks.

Starting Monday, March 23, CAMC will have designated bins for the community to drop off masks and donate supplies. The bins will be available Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the following locations.

CAMC Human Resources – 419 Brooks St, Charleston, WV 25301

CAMC Women and Children’s Hospital (Physician offices side) – 830 Pennsylvania Ave, Charleston, WV 25302

CAMC Breast Center – 3415 MacCorkle Ave SE, Charleston, WV 25304

CAMC Teays Valley Human Resources – First Floor, Putnam Plaza, Hurricane, WV 25526

Christ Church United Methodist – 1221 Quarrier St, Charleston, WV 25301

Elizabeth Memorial United Methodist Church – 108 Oakwood Rd, Charleston, WV 25314

Bible Center Church – 100 Bible Center Dr, Charleston, WV 25309

If you would like to use your own fabric, please note that the pattern requires 100% cotton material. If you need materials, CAMC Volunteer Services will make arrangements to provide it to you.

Visit this link for the instructions and materials needed to make the masks: https://www.craftpassion.com/face-mask-sewing-pattern/.

For any questions, please call the CAMC Volunteer services office at (304) 388-7426 or email Kelly Anderson, Volunteer Services Director at [email protected] Thank you for supporting your hospital and health care workers!

5:30 p.m. 3/21/20  Large utility says flushing wipes can cause problems

The state’s largest water utility, West Virginia American Water Company, put out an alert Saturday, urging its customers not to flush ‘flushable” wipes.

“Flushing or dumping the wrong things down the drain can cause problems in your local sewer system and cause blockages in your own home,” said John Pentasuglia, senior operations manager for West Virginia American Water said in a news release. “Many sewer blockages occur between your house and our sewer main, where the property owner is responsible for correcting and paying for the repair. During this already stressful time, we want to help our customers avoid blockages that could create costly plumbing emergencies.”

Wipes are being used a lot more than normal because of the coronavirus.

11:29 a.m. 3/21/20 Saturday Justice plans statewide address

Gov. Jim Justice plans a statewide address at 7 p.m. Saturday to discuss further coronavirus precautions in West Virginia.

Here is one place you can watch

I will address the citizens of West Virginia tonight at 7 p.m. on our #COVID19 preparations and response. You can watch our livestream on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or your local TV station.

— Governor Jim Justice (@WVGovernor) March 21, 2020

Through Friday evening, West Virginia had eight confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kanawha, Jackson, Mercer, Monongalia, Tucker and Jefferson counties.

That list is expected to grow as more testing more testing rolls out.

Justice has asked West Virginians to stay home to slow the spread of the virus.

West Virginia has closed universities, sent K-12 students home, made restaurants takeout- and delivery-only and shut bars, casinos, state park lodges and ATV trails.

Other states are starting to take those precautions a step farther.

Pennsylvania has closed all but “life-sustaining” businesses. California has ordered citizens to stay home. New York, Connecticut and Illinois have followed suit.

7:35 p.m. Friday 3/20/20 Eight cases confirmed in West Virginia

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has confirmed eight cases of the coronavirus so far in West Virginia.

The eighth case is in Kanawha County.

Department officials noted 330 tests have come back negative. The results from two tests at the state’s public health lab are pending.

4:10 p.m. Friday 3/20/20  Treasurer John Perdue urges residents to use online services from his office

Read Purdue release here

4:00 p.m. Friday 3/20/20  West Virginia State University announces decision about rest of semester

**Coronavirus Campus Update:**
Classes will not resume on March 25. Instead, beginning March 30, and for the remainder of the semester, all face-to-face classes will be delivered remotely utilizing alternative learning options. For more info, please visit https://t.co/mRqZpRJzEr. pic.twitter.com/HDCz29pjyo

— WV State University (@WVStateU) March 20, 2020

 

11:39 a.m. Friday 3/20/20 Two Tucker County residents with confirmed cases of COVID-19 were in quarantine before and remained in quarantine after diagnosis, according to health officials.

More here.

8:14 a.m. More than 4,000 have filed for unemployment; here’s how

WorkForce’s plan to process influx of claims

Since Gov. Justice declared a state of emergency on March 16, WorkForce  West Virginia has processed more than 4,000 new claims for unemployment benefits. To manage and process the influx of claims, WorkForce has implemented the following measures:

  • Extend phone hours to 7 p.m.
  • Permit staff to work overtime and on weekends
  • Train additional staff
  • Train and use Department of Commerce staff
  • Use temporary employees

Those seeking to file an initial claim for unemployment benefits should do so online at www.workforcewv.org.

“As we face these uncertain times, we want to reassure every person who has recently lost their job that financial assistance is available to them,” said Scott Adkins, acting commissioner for WorkForce West Virginia. “But there’s no time to waste. As soon as employment ends, you should file for benefits because each day you wait is a day you have to wait for that much-needed help.”

Where to file
The fastest way to file for benefits is online at www.workforcewv.org. A step-by-step guide to filing an initial claim may be found by going to Unemployment section of WorkForce’s website and then clicking the Claimants tab. Those who do not have internet access, have a disability requiring assistive technology or need further assistance should call 1-800-252-JOBS.

When to file
It is important to file a new claim immediately after employment ends.

How to file
To file an initial claim, applications need to register as a job seeker at www.workforcewv.org.

After filing an initial claim, a WorkForce West Virginia staff member will contact the applicant by email or by phone. To learn more about WorkForce West Virginia services and programs, visit www.workforce.org.

8:07 a.m. Friday 3/20/2020 Justice daily briefing scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

Here’s one place to find the stream: https://t.co/hed6eMfUYV

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 20, 2020

12:40 a.m. Friday 3/20/2020 SBA offering disaster loans to businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans to businesses dealing with substantial economic injury because of the coronavirus.

“SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist West Virginia small businesses with federal disaster loans. We will be swift in our efforts to help these small businesses recover from the financial impacts of COVID-19,” Administrator Jovita Carranza said.

The program was made available following a request from Gov. Jim Justice on March 18.

12:35 a.m. Friday 3/20/2020 CAMC halting elective procedures, changing visitation rules

Charleston Area Medical Center is halting all elective operations to better address the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The medical facility announced Thursday it will perform emergent, urgent and semi-urgent procedures that, if delayed, would pose a negative impact on a patient’s health.

The plan goes into effect on Monday and will remain in place until April 20.

Charleston Area Medical Center is also restricting visitation; visitor ID badges will be given to visitors one at a time, and visitation hours have been reduced to noon to 6 p.m.

12:32 p.m. Thursday 3/19/2020 Justice’s daily press conference goes virtual

Citing CDC guidelines, state officials are making a daily press briefing virtual.

In recent days, seating has been spread out in an attempt to enforce social distancing.

Now the briefing will be online for today’s 4 p.m. press conference.

The public can still watch at a variety of social media locations. West Virginia MetroNews will also be carrying the update.

The public can still watch pic.twitter.com/16Kpeczrjq

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 19, 2020

6:39 a.m. Thursday 3/19/20 Justice’s ‘Fox and Friends’ appearance is postponed

Gov. Jim Justice tweeted that his scheduled appearance on “Fox and Friends,” to discuss West Virginia’s coronavirus response has been postponed.

Justice, like other governors, has shut down schools, restaurants and bars and other gathering places. He has also advocated for “social distancing” practices meant to help slow the spread of the virus.

.@FoxandFriends has postponed this interview, but I look forward to talking with them soon about West Virginia’s efforts against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). https://t.co/OTgBSd5agQ

— Governor Jim Justice (@JimJusticeWV) March 19, 2020

Justice is the first scheduled guest today at 10:06 a.m. on MetroNews’ “Talkline.” 

6:33 a.m. Thursday 3/19/2020 West Virginia’s Smooth Ambler says it will produce hand sanitizer

Smooth Ambler, a West Virginia-based distillery says it is stepping up to produce hand sanitizer, which has been in short supply.

We’re proud to announce that we will soon be producing hand sanitizer in our distillery and sending it to those in need. Thanks to the folks at @Pernod_Ricard for getting us legal approval and the opportunity to help others during this crisis.

via @forbes https://t.co/VyxS7XkkHd

— Smooth Ambler (@SmoothAmbler) March 18, 2020

12:30 a.m. Thursday 3/19/2020 The Greenbrier suspending operations for a month

The Greenbrier resort is suspending operations until mid-April because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The hotel announced Wednesday that operations will cease on Thursday at noon.

“The health and safety of our guests and Team Members is our top priority, and this move is critical to ensure the well-being of all involved,” the resort said in a statement.

Operations will resume April 17 at 11 a.m.

After careful consideration and upon the advice of state and national government and health officials surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), The Greenbrier is suspending operations beginning: https://t.co/3u6uQyWTp4 pic.twitter.com/ls4J2mASHV

— The Greenbrier (@The_Greenbrier) March 19, 2020

12:05 a.m. Thursday 3/19/2020 Shepherd University will take rest of the semester online; Wheeling University tells students to move off campus

Shepherd University announced Wednesday the rest of the spring semester will be completed online rather than face-to-face because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The change will go into effect on March 30. Academic leaders and others have been preparing to go online since the announcement about extending spring break through March 27.

“During this time of fewer individuals on campus, limited food service, and no face-to-face classroom instruction, Shepherd’s Facilities team will be deep cleaning and disinfecting common areas,” university president Mary J.C. Hendrick said in a press release.

“Based on other pandemics that have transpired, we appreciate that COVID-19 will pass and our institution will remain strong. We have a profound responsibility to remain calm, well informed, and serve our students, employees and community to the best of our ability.”

A limited number of students will be allowed to stay at residence halls:

— Students who claim Shepherd University as their only residence.
— Students who have a visa, refugee status or other non-citizenship status and the institution is their only residence in the country.
— American students who live a significant distance from campus and feel safer staying on campus.
— Students who cannot obtain internet access elsewhere.
— Students with other cases first deemed appropriate by Residence Life.

Wheeling University officials announced all students will be required to move off campus by Sunday evening because of the coronavirus.

University president Ginny Favede informed the campus community all students will have to be off campus by 5 p.m. All facilities will also be closed at that time as well.

Offices will be open to assist students during the transition.

West Virginia University announced a similar decision on Wednesday.

2:14 p.m. Wednesday 3/18/20 Secretary of State touts broad ballot access via absentee voting

West Virginia voters should be allowed voters broad access to absentee balloting for the upcoming primary election, state officials said today.

Secretary of State Mac Warner and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey appeared together at a news conference, describing a path forward for the state’s May 12 election during concerns about coronavirus.

Morrisey issued an opinion stating the governor’s emergency declaration gives the Secretary of State authority to make balloting more flexible.

The opinion cites a section of state code providing allowance for those “confined to a specific location and prevented from voting in person” due to “illness … or other medical reason,” provides the Secretary emergency authority to extend absentee voting eligibility for those subject to limited travel and/or mandatory or voluntary quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In other words, the current situation means almost everyone can cite health concerns as a reason to use an absentee ballot.

“Our legal opinion has the potential to provide expanded opportunities for citizens to vote safely during this unprecedented public health emergency, while protecting the integrity of the primary election,” Morrisey stated.

“It is important to note that this is an extraordinary, unique situation. We are in unchartered territory and the opinion expressed in our letter should be viewed within the confines of the state’s emergency powers.”

Secretary of State Mac Warner and AG Patrick Morrisey on #WVGov elections https://t.co/Hcz84pvC0q

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 18, 2020

11:16 a.m. Wednesday 3/18/20 Governor Justice plans 2:30 p.m. update

Gov. Jim Justice and other state leaders plan a regular coronavirus preparedness press conference at 2:30 p.m. today.

It may be seen here.

2:30 pm press conference with ⁦@WVGovernor⁩ today pic.twitter.com/sJXcqOYnsx

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 18, 2020

Justice canceled the regular press conference on Tuesday and instead did a statewide address that revealed West Virginia’s first positive test for coronavirus as well as the governor’s order to close down restaurants, bars and casinos.

9:44 a.m. 3/18/20 Drive-through testing facilities being rolled out

WVU Medicine has announced that it is establishing five drive-through collection points in West Virginia to collect specimens from pre-screened patients to test for covid-19.

The collection points will be in Morgantown, Parkersburg, Bridgeport, Wheeling and Martinsburg.

Transmission of the coronavirus is increasing nationwide, and other health systems have successfully used the drive-through approach.

The testing itself will be supported by both Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, which will process the specimens that WVU Medicine collects from patients.

The collection points will operate seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting today. Patients will typically learn test results in three-to-four days, although time will likely vary based on the volume of tests the two companies will be performing.

Tests will be reserved for people who meet screening criteria based on CDC recommendations and are sick with symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19: fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Asymptomatic patients – or those people who have no obvious covid-19 symptoms – will not be tested.

This will ensure only the highest-risk patients are identified and receive the appropriate medical intervention. The screening will not test for seasonal flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), or any other respiratory illness.

Patients who meet criteria for testing will be directed to one of the five drive-through collection points. WVU Medicine staff will collect the specimens, using appropriate precautions, and send them to Quest Diagnostics or LabCorp for analysis. This process reduces the need for other critically constrained resources.

“We are happy to roll these collection sites out to our state and provide this critical service to our citizens,” Judie Charlton, WVU Medicine’s chief medical officer, said.

“We only ask that people who are truly sick and who have symptoms consistent with covid-19 request testing, which they can through their primary care doctor or by calling the WVU Medicine covid-19 triage line at 304-598-6000, option 4.”

WVU Medicine will collect the specimen only if the patient has a valid Epic order from a referring physician.

“Our process of requiring an Epic order expedites our ability to communicate results back to patients and ensure that appropriate measures have been taken in ordering the test, reporting to government agencies, and providing follow-through care when warranted,” Dr. Charlton said.

“Patients whose care is through a provider without Epic access can be accommodated by the treating physician referring the patient to our covid-19 triage number.”

9:10 p.m. Mardi Gras casino responds to order closing casinos because of coronavirus precautions

The situation surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19) has been rapidly developing, and Mardi Gras Casino & Resort continues to be focused on efforts at our facility to protect the health and safety of our guests and employees.
In coordination with the West Virginia Lottery and the State of West Virginia, we are acting to temporarily close the venue beginning at 6:00 a.m., March 18 until further notice. Our hotel will remain open until noon Wednesday, March 18, to accommodate overnight guests. All activities are canceled, including casino promotions.
We will be communicating as quickly as possible with our employees to assist them during this period. We thank them for their ongoing diligence and ability to adapt in a very fluid and unprecedented circumstance.
To date, we have worked to protect public health by following CDC guidelines on sanitizing protocols and cleaning throughout our venue. We will remain in close touch with State and County health officials, and we look forward to reopening our property and continuing to provide a clean, safe environment.
We apologize for the inconvenience to our guests and look forward to hosting them again in the near future. Information will be updated on our website at www.MardigrasCasinoWV.com/ and via www.Facebook.com/MardigrasCasino&ResortWestVirginia/ as details become available.

7:31 p.m. Tuesday 3/17/20 State officials expand on coronavirus confirmation and order regarding bars, restaurants and casinos

Press availability after #WV cornonavirus confirmstion https://t.co/KbsZ6erWQg

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 17, 2020

6:01 p.m. Tuesday 3/17/20  Gov. Justice announces first confirmed coronavirus case in West Virginia is in the state’s Eastern Panhandle. He has also mandated no inside service for restaurants and shuts bars and casinos.

Justice called on West Virginians to stand together during this difficult time.

“We’ll get through this. We’ll win,” he said.

1:51 p.m. Tuesday 3/17/20

Gov. Jim Justice and health officials are addressing West Virginians at 6 p.m. about coronavirus precautions.

This is a change from the earlier stated time of 3 p.m., but also a change of format. The Governor’s Office did not immediately provide the reasons for the change.

UPDATE pic.twitter.com/trXdNqHk4A

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 17, 2020

1:37 p.m. Tuesday 3/17/20 Delegate again requests immediate special session on coronavirus response

Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, pushed repeatedly during the recently-concluded legislative session for additional money to prepare for coronavirus.

Isaac Sponaugle

Now he says the state needs a special session for a small business emergency fund, an extension of income tax filing deadlines, establishment of mail-in balloting, more financial support for DHHR and appropriations from the Rainy Day Fund.

“Members of the legislature need to be called in for a special session immediately. We must pass key pieces of legislation before the coronavirus crashes into the state,” Sponaugle said.

“We’re elected to protect our people and we haven’t done that. It’s vital that we get certain key measures in place before it’s too late. No member of the legislature should be hunkering down until we complete our oath of office to take care of our people.”



Isaac Press Release for Coronavirus Special Session 2 (Text)

11:45 a.m. Tuesday 3/17/20  DMV restricts customers to regional offices

@WVDMV announces restrictions at reg. offices "All will remain open and operational. However, each location will permit no more than 10-20 individuals inside their offices at any time. DMV staff will intermittently wipe down counters and chairs." Agency reminds of online options

— Jeff Jenkins (@JeffJenkinsMN) March 17, 2020

9:56 a.m. Tuesday 3/17/20 Justice plans 3 p.m. update 

Questions are likely again over whether bars and restaurants should be closed to dine-in service in West Virginia.

12:20 a.m. Tuesday 3/17/20 Recovery Point West Virginia issues a new policy

Recovery Point West Virginia is limiting clients’ abilities to attend outside meetings as well as preventing guests from its properties.

The group announced the policy on Monday, which is in effect for its facilities in Huntington, Charleston, Bluefield and Parkersburg, as well as its administrative offices.

“Rest assured our doors will remain open so that people all across the great state of West Virginia can continue to receive our programs of recovery from SUD and continue to improve their lives as a result,” the facility said in a letter.

6:04 p.m. Monday 3/16/20 DHHR clarifies West Virginia’s testing criteria 

Due to the evolving #COVID19 situation, @WV_DHHR is clarifying the state’s testing criteria: https://t.co/dCz7013WvV pic.twitter.com/tfuyc6Owoj

— WV DHHR (@WV_DHHR) March 16, 2020

5:53 p.m. Monday 3/16/20 City of Charleston brings in ‘essential personnel’ only 

The City of Charleston will move to essential personnel effective tomorrow. All other personnel will be placed on administrative leave and will continue to be paid, according to an announcement by the city.

Also, all access to City offices, public event facilities and community/recreation centers will be limited to the public in an effort to slow the spread.

The Kanawha County Commission is also asking the public to limit access to the Courthouse to visits for only essential business or services, although the courthouse will continue to be open.

The Commission is encouraging the public to call first (304-357-0101) or visit the county website at www.kanawha.us to determine if business can be conducted telephonically or online before visiting the courthouse in person.

In addition, the Kanawha County Commission wants county employees to work from home or work remotely if possible, especially employees who have been affected by the recent public school closure.

The Commission will be allocating funding to help offset overtime that may be required due to staffing shortages caused by covid-19.



03 16 2020 Public Buildings (Text)

3:15 p.m. Monday 3/16/20  Supreme Court chief justice suspends all but emergency court hearings

Read announcement here 

2:00 p.m. Monday 3/16/20 DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch on coronavirus response

.@WV_DHHR Cabinet Secretary Bill J. Crouch discusses the proactive approach West Virginia is taking in response to #COVID19. Stay up to date at https://t.co/2oyUxmvobh or call our 24/7, toll-free COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-887-4304. #KnowTheFacts pic.twitter.com/gwjpkLLJkx

— WV DHHR (@WV_DHHR) March 16, 2020

 

1:48 p.m. Monday 3/16/20 Morrisey says office is on the watch for consumer issues

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said his office is watching out for consumer fraud issues during the coronavirus situation.

During a news conference Monday afternoon, Morrisey discussed issues such as the adequacy of supply and his office’s outreach to retail stores.

“The coronavirus pandemic presents a challenge like none other,” Morrisey stated. “COVID-19 has seemingly affected every aspect of life from the average trip to buy groceries, dine out and attend concerts or sporting events to one’s dream vacation planned months, if not years, in advance.

“Furthermore, the impact is still evolving, yet the need for consumers to be vigilant and take common-sense steps to protect their financial wellbeing is constant.”

12:13 p.m. Monday 3/16/20 Justice schedules update on coronavirus precautions

Gov. Jim Justice and his staff plan a 2:30 p.m. status report on West Virginia.

Video is embedded above or may be seen here.

9:34 a.m. Monday 3/16/20 Feeding sites opening for children 

The West Virginia Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition has worked with all 55 counties to open sites to feed children this week.

Starting today, counties will begin to open more than 500 sites around the state to ensure children who require school breakfasts and lunches will receive meals during the statewide school closure caused by coronavirus precautions.

Amanda Harrison, Executive Director of the @WVeducation Office of Child Nutrition, talks with @HoppyKercheval about how each county is feeding students. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/H5N7fFruwA

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) March 16, 2020

Last week, the department received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture allowing counties flexibility to feed students in non-congregant settings during unanticipated school closures.

Following Gov. Jim Justice’s decision to close all pre-k–12 schools to reduce the potential impact of the disease, the department began the process of getting plans finalized and sites approved so that meal distribution can begin Monday.

Both Governor Justice and Superintendent Clayton Burch have said child nutrition is a top priority during the closure.

9:59 p.m. p.m. Sunday 03/15/20

West Virginia’s DHHR is still reporting no positive tests out of 41.

Thirty-eight have come back negative with three more still pending as of Sunday evening. West Virginia is now the only state in the nation without a confirmed case, although state leaders including Gov. Jim Justice have said coronavirus is likely in the state without yet being identified.

Now that COVID-19 testing is expanded and available through commercial laboratories and some hospitals, DHHR is only reporting those tests that have been processed through its state public health lab. All positive results obtained by commercial laboratories are reportable to DHHR and are included in the positive case counts.

@WV_DHHR reports no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in WV: 41 residents tested with 38 results coming back negative and three tests pending. #COVID19 https://t.co/2oyUxmvobh https://t.co/YXdW6SenwG pic.twitter.com/m0lzn5Dm65

— WV DHHR (@WV_DHHR) March 16, 2020

7:39 p.m. Sunday 03/15/20 Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin signs State of Emergency declaration 

Here is the proclamation signed by Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin just moments ago. The proclamation allows the city the authority to issue emergency policies and direct city personnel, services and equipment to perform acts as necessary. pic.twitter.com/f4Xn52cbb4

— Jake Flatley (@JakeFlatley) March 15, 2020


5:00 p.m. 03/15/20  Kanawha County library system announces total closure 

pic.twitter.com/pujCtKEQid

— Kanawha County Library (@KanawhaLibrary) March 15, 2020


4:30 p.m. Sunday 3/15/20  Gov. Jim Justice announces Monday news conference at state Capitol at 2 p.m.  Announcement says still no confirmed cases of coronavirus. 


3:37 p.m. Sunday 3/15/20 Kanawha County Schools adjusts school schedule 

Parents: we've updated our KCS COVID-19 Plan. Please find the updates at https://t.co/F1JLESmuny. We will be out through at least March 27th and bagged meals will now be delivered along bus routes (among other updates). pic.twitter.com/buJp8BJKNp

— Kanawha County (@KCBOE) March 15, 2020


12:50 p.m. Sunday 3/15/20 Senior services continue to be offered

The West Virginia Directors of Senior and Community Services, providers of senior services, are continuing operations while monitoring the coronavirus situation.

That includes providing meals and in-home services as needed to senior citizens in West Virginia.

“Because so many seniors rely on us, at the present time, providers are continuing to offer services on a normal basis until the situation warrants otherwise,” said William Carpenter, President of the West Virginia Directors of Senior & Community Services.

He added, “Many of the county meal providers throughout West Virginia have or are in the process of purchasing additional shelf stable meals to offer seniors in the event it would become necessary to close senior centers. Providers are also contacting in-home patients in order to update them on the current situation.”



WVDSCS COVID 19 Statement (Text)

12:43 p.m. Sunday 3/15/20 WVU health expert advises caution on travel

Clay Marsh, executive dean for health sciences at West Virginia University, provided advice about travel. WVU has shut down in-person classes for students, but Marsh’s advice was also meant for others in West Virginia.

Everyone has to make a personal decision about their activities, Marsh said, but limiting non-essential travel right now is a prudent thing to do.

This is especially true for international travel, travel to hot spots in the United States and on cruise ships, he said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Kathy Moffett, WVU School of Medicine’s Pediatric Infectious Diseases section chief, described the importance of “social distancing” in an article in Morgantown’s Dominion Post newspaper.

“It’s a social responsibility just like vaccinating. We’re doing it not just for ourselves but for others. … We’re all going to be in our communities for a while. We have to accept that.”

Here’s good social distancing advice from Dr. Kathy Moffett in today’s The Dominion Post. Let’s spread the word, not the germs.

Kudos to our local paper for making this super shareable. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 https://t.co/bRwj5jnF3x

— WVU Medicine (@WVUMedicine) March 15, 2020

12:35 p.m. Sunday 3/15/20 West Virginia spiritual leaders go online with messages

Churches, synagogues and other places of worship across West Virginia canceled public attendance at services but made live messages available online.

For example, Vienna Baptist Church in Wood County provided a specific coronavirus update to congregants. That also provided congregants some advice for how to approach the situation spiritually:

  • Pray for mercy for the sick, strength for doctors, insight for researchers, and wisdom for officials.

  • Look for opportunities to love and care for others, whether they are sick, isolated, marginalized, poor, or oppressed.

  • Avoid every semblance of prejudice or racism. In light of the origination of this virus in Asia, it has been grievous to see a rise in racist incidents against the Asian community. So just as we do in any circumstance, guard against all prejudice or racism in your thoughts, your words, and your actions.

Regular church services were canceled but a live sermon was made available on the church’s website.

Likewise, Bible Center in Charleston advised congregants to “join us online.” The message there was revised to be timely: “A Christian Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, Part 1.”

 

Victor Urecki

B’Nai Jacob Synagogue in Charleston also provided a coronavirus update.

The synagogue had Shabbat services but canceled the kiddush. Other services and classes at the synagogue were continuing, but Rabbi Victor Urecki advised that the synagogue would practice good “social distancing,” causing the alteration of some traditions.

“Most importantly,” Urecki wrote, “and I hope you agree, that our primary goal should be to honor and love G-d in worship and can do so without spreading germs.”

12:09 p.m. Sunday 3/15/20 New York Times looks at West Virginia situation

“We know it’s here. I mean, let’s be real. It has to be here. We just haven’t found it yet.” https://t.co/sMUPi65MCP

— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 15, 2020

9:45 p.m. Saturday 3/14/20  DHHR days still no confirmed cases.

@WV_DHHR reports no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in WV: 39 residents tested with 38 results coming back negative and one test pending. #COVID19 https://t.co/2oyUxmvobh https://t.co/nj8ENh10sa pic.twitter.com/LKYNN0qXcm

— WV DHHR (@WV_DHHR) March 15, 2020

9:15 p.m. Saturday 3/14/20  Alterra, parent company of Snowshoe Mountain Resort, had announced all its resorts will close Sunday.

Alterra Mountain Company to close 15 North American Resorts starting March 15. https://t.co/zeLwY89wZs pic.twitter.com/GEfRCIA4ep

— Crystal Mountain (@CrystalMt) March 15, 2020

6:07 p.m. Saturday 3/14//20 Governor clarifies that school will be out until at least March 27, 2020

Here are the highlights of an update Gov. Justice and state officials put out Saturday evening:

  • All schools will remain closed to students through at least Friday, March 27.
  • Essential staff, as determined by each county board of education, will report Monday, March 16 through Wednesday, March 18 to develop continuity plans for students.
  • All teachers, staff, and school service personnel will report Thursday, March 19 and Friday, March 20.
  • County boards of education will determine staff requirements for Monday, March 23 and beyond.

Only essential staff will report on Monday, March 16 through Wednesday, March 18, and county superintendents will determine who these employees are in their counties.

During this time, the county superintendents will work with local boards of education, leadership teams, and essential staff to devise a continuity plan that outlines how to best meet the needs of students and the community during this extended closure.

All child nutrition programs will be minimally affected by this statewide school closure. Essential personnel including transportation staff, custodial staff, and food service staff are necessary during this time to ensure child nutrition efforts are implemented effectively for the over 200,000 students who rely on school meals for their daily nutrition.

County boards of education may use school buses to transport meals to students throughout the duration of the closure.

All remaining teachers and staff will return to work on Thursday, March 19 and Friday, March 20 to make sure plans are properly implemented so student needs, educator well-being, and the continuity of instruction are properly addressed.

County boards of education will determine staff requirements for Monday, March 23 and beyond. The county leadership team may choose to establish flexible work options including adjusted schedules and remote work.

Beyond online instruction, county leadership teams have an array of options to ensure the delivery of instruction including distance learning, telecommunication, electronic communication, traditional instructional packets, and more.

More information on the Department of Education’s plans to supplement student learning and nutrition will be available at wvde.us/COVID19.

The West Virginia National Guard and the West Virginia Department of Agriculture are also prepared to step in and support counties in offering adequate student support.

UPDATE to the statewide school closure plan here: https://t.co/MwCIbxlA3O. Schools will remain closed to students until at least March 27, 2020. I encourage all teachers, school service personnel, students, and parents to read and share this update. @WVeducation #WV #COVID19

— Governor Jim Justice (@WVGovernor) March 14, 2020

“At the heart of everything we are doing right now is the protection of our children, making sure our schools are safe for our teachers and staff, and making every effort to protect all of the people of West Virginia,” Justice stated.

“I have been and will remain in constant contact with Superintendent Burch, and we both have heard the concerns of our teachers and school service personnel. We want to make sure all their concerns are taken into consideration as we develop our plans.”

6 p.m. Saturday 3/14/20 W.Va. congressional delegation splits on relief package

Reps. David McKinley and Carol Miller joined most of their Republican colleagues and all present Democrats in passing the measure. Rep. Alex Mooney was one of 40 Republicans who opposed the legislation.

Legislators passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act in a bipartisan 363-40 vote. The measure sets aside $1 billion for food programs in addition to providing free coronavirus tests and paid sick leave.

Cathy Kunkel, a Democrat running in this year’s 2nd Congressional District contest, issued a statement Saturday morning denouncing Mooney.

Read more from Alex Thomas: US House passes extensive coronavirus measure

5:51 p.m. Saturday 3/14/20 Emergency officials meet to go over preparedness

Officials met today to go over the response by emergency units in Charleston and Kanawha County. That’s preparation by the Emergency Operations Center located at Metro 911.

The group was comprised of government, emergency services, health and community officials. The meeting was led by City of Charleston Director of Homeland Security & Emergency Management Mark Strickland and Kanawha County Director of Homeland Security & Emergency Management C.W. Sigman.

Throughout the day, officials coordinated with local nursing homes, hospitals and representatives that work with the homeless population to identify supply levels and areas of need.

“When our agencies can all come together to protect the community, we accomplish the coordination of resources and identify the needs of our at-risk population,” stated C.W. Sigman, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for Kanawha County.

“We will continue to plan and coordinate efforts to protect the Kanawha Valley.”

Organizations represented in today’s meeting included the City of Charleston, Kanawha County, Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, Charleston Police Department, Charleston Fire Department, Kanawha Valley Collective, American Red Cross and Metro 911.

Right now, the Unified Health Command at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department will continue to operate 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For questions regarding COVID-19, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department is available by phone 24-hours a day at 304-348-1088.

3:22 p.m. Saturday 3/14/20 Visitation limited at major West Virginia medical providers CAMC, WVU Medicine

Two of West Virginia’s biggest medical providers are restricting access.

WVU Medicine has posted a series of guidelines, saying that visitors will be limited to just one per patient in the hospital at a time and that minimal visitation is encouraged. Visitors with a cough, fever, shortness of breath, and/or fatigue should reschedule their visit.

WVU Medicine, also known as the WVU Health System, includes J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital and WVU Medicine Children’s in Morgantown, Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg, Braxton County Memorial Hospital in Gassaway, Camden Clark Medical Center in Parkersburg, Jackson General Hospital in Ripley, Jefferson Medical Center in Ranson, Potomac Valley Hospital in Keyser, Reynolds Memorial Hospital in Glen Dale, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Buckhannon, Summersville Regional Medical Center in Summersville, and United Hospital Center in Bridgeport.

Please be take a moment to familiarize yourself with our new visitation policy before coming to campus, and thank you for your assistance in helping protect our patients, employees, and other guests. #COVID19 https://t.co/gQhO1InWJY

— WVU Medicine (@WVUMedicine) March 13, 2020

CAMC is limiting visitors hours, although essential visitors such as a spouse, a parent or a caregiver have more flexible options. And on Monday, CAMC will phase in restricted points of entry at its locations.

Please take note of CAMC’s restricted visitation policy – in effect immediately. pic.twitter.com/lxbmUmbaoC

— CAMC Health System (@CAMCHealth) March 14, 2020

Also, CAMC is emphasizing a telemedicine option for anyone with suspected covid-19 symptoms

If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms and are concerned about Coronavirus, you can use CAMC’s 24/7 Care app to talk to a provider FREE – anytime, day or night. It only takes a few minutes to download the 24/7 Care app and set up an account.

— CAMC Health System (@CAMCHealth) March 14, 2020

1:15 p.m. Saturday 3/14/20  West Virginia remains only state without confirmed case 

West Virginia remains the only state without a positive case of Covid 19 Novel Corona Virus diagnosed. Information from the state Department of Health and Human Services on Saturday indicated the state has now tested 31 individuals who showed symptoms and met the threshold set for the testing. Of those tested, 26 have been negative and five of the tests are still pending.

The DHHR notes the number of tests may be higher since several private labs and hospitals now have the ability to do their own testing for Covid 19. They are not required to report the test, but if a case is positive it is required to be reported to state health officials.

The virus has been confirmed right on West Virginia’s border.

Belmont County, Ohio, has reported two positive cases. Belmont County is across the Ohio River from Wheeling.

Washington County, Pennsylvania, which is not far from West Virginia, also reported a case.

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has announced the cancellation of the Sportsman’s Sectional Meetings which were set for Monday and Tuesday across the state. They have also announced the Archery in Schools State Tournament set to be held at Marshall University two weeks from today has also been cancelled.

2:20 a.m. US House passes coronavirus legislation

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a sweeping measure regarding the coronavirus, which includes free coronavirus tests, paid sick leave through the end of the year and $1 billion for food programs.

The chamber approved the bill 363-40.

How West Virginia’s representatives voted:

@RepMcKinley: Yes.
@RepAlexMooney: No.
@RepCarolMiller: Yes.

— Alex Thomas (@AlexHouseThomas) March 14, 2020

8:40 p.m. Hoyer provides update regarding the West Virginia National Guard

State Adjutant General James Hoyer said Friday the West Virginia National Guard will be taking actions to minimize the spread of coronavirus among members and their families.

“At this time, we have not implemented any changes to our individual and unit training schedules,” he said. “We are preparing our force for this rapidly evolving global situation and are implementing steps to educate and safeguard our people across the state. Our number one focus is our service members and their families.”

There are no changes regarding access to National Guard facilities at this time.

Hoyer also said the Mountaineer Challenge Academy will remain open during the statewide school closure Gov. Jim Justice announced earlier in the day.

8:30 p.m. Update from the state DHHR on test results

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources announced Friday evening out of the 31 residents that have been tested for coronavirus, 26 results have come back negative with five other tests pending.

5:30 p.m. Update on test results from state DHHR

21 total tests, 17 negative, 4 pending

4:30 p.m. State’s largest school district, Kanawha County, releases its instruction and food plan for COVID-19 shutdown

Please find our updated KCD COVID-19 information at: https://t.co/F1JLES4SYY. No school indefinitely beginning Monday. All staff should report. Additional details on feeding sites and technology are available through the link. pic.twitter.com/wuzcoMW9AB

— Kanawha County (@KCBOE) March 13, 2020

4:20 p.m. Mass suspended in Wheeling-Charleston Diocese

Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Mark Brennan: I am suspending for the time being the public celebration of Mass, both for Sunday obligation and daily Masses, beginning with this weekend’s Saturday afternoon Masses. @WVMetroNews pic.twitter.com/omyuHS9juT

— Jake Flatley (@JakeFlatley) March 13, 2020


4:10 p.m. West Virginia state parks to remain open

Special notice to our guests & visitors regarding COVID-19: pic.twitter.com/tuwZXrwBMZ

— WV State Parks (@WVStateParks) March 13, 2020

 

3:33 p.m.  Trump declares national emergency

BREAKING: Pres. Trump declares national emergency.

— Opens up to $50 billion for states, territories and localities.
— Calls for states to set up emergency centers.
— Calls on hospitals to activate emergency preparedness plans.
— Confers new authorities to HHS secretary. pic.twitter.com/AMLe2eOjWX

— ABC News (@ABC) March 13, 2020

2:27 p.m. Warner floats special session to make balloting more flexible 

Secretary of State Mac Warner says he’s getting close to formally requesting Gov. Jim Justice to call a special session of the legislature soon in connection with the May 12 Primary Election and the coronavirus.

Warner told MetroNews Friday he’ll propose amending the state’s election law to “tweak” the current absentee ballot process, the timing of early voting and existing poll worker requirements.

More from Jeff Jenkins: Warner close to seeking special session to propose voting changes prior to May 12 primary

2:20 p.m. Charleston, Kanawha leaders lay out preparation plan

Goodwin: “This is a marathon and it’s mile one. But we’ve been training for this for decades….We have the best of the best here.” pic.twitter.com/Wo2RmU1P9z

— Jake Flatley (@JakeFlatley) March 13, 2020

Carper on economic impact: “If this crisis is stopped today, it would make the water crisis look small. This is serious.”

— Jake Flatley (@JakeFlatley) March 13, 2020

Full update from the city and county: pic.twitter.com/I7QSQG7HMe

— Jake Flatley (@JakeFlatley) March 13, 2020

1:40 p.m. Federal courts continue everything that can be continued 

Federal court in southern #WV is being continued, continued, continued pic.twitter.com/dcfuCeORnh

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 13, 2020

12:55 p.m. Superintendent Burch says schools got confirmation of closure via midday press conference

#WVGov schools superintendent Clayton Burch did a gaggle with reporters after today’s closures announcement. He said local school personnel would have learned via the governor’s remarks and the rest of the day will be organizing to get kids homehttps://t.co/0n0eEHzM2p

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 13, 2020

West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said the governor made the right decision. He said closing schools will provide increased safety for students, teachers and staff.

#WVGov schools superintendent Clayton Burch did a gaggle with reporters after today’s closures announcement. He said local school personnel would have learned via the governor’s remarks and the rest of the day will be organizing to get kids homehttps://t.co/0n0eEHzM2p

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 13, 2020

11:05 a.m. Governor Justice says he will close schools

“We’ll close the schools as long as we have to close the schools,” Gov. Jim Justice said at a news conference today at the Capitol.

“I’m closing the schools. That’s all there is to it.”

Big @WVgovernor announcement

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 13, 2020

Stream here.

10:47 a.m. Manchin says Senate should have stayed to receive response package

Senator Joe Manchin appeared on MetroNews’ “Talkline” this morning and expressed frustration that the Senate has recessed instead of remaining to act on a response package passed by the House of Representatives.

.@Sen_JoeManchin speaks with @HoppyKercheval about his frustration that the Senate has adjourned without passing a coronavirus economic “package”. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/c5bNZj0IqY

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) March 13, 2020

Manchin says Senate should have been ready to receive response package sent over by the House

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 13, 2020

Congress has been working on a package and it’s expected to be close to passage.

Congress is close to a deal on a broad coronavirus stimulus package, following lengthy negotiations between Democratic leaders and the White House https://t.co/KEQpDx15sJ

— POLITICO (@politico) March 13, 2020

Manchin also said West Virginia — and the nation — aren’t doing enough testing.

Manchin: “We don’t have enough tests.”

“It seems like in West Virginia we don’t have any cases. That sounds wonderful. But we just haven’t tested anybody.”

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 13, 2020

10:26 a.m. West Virginia testing capacity is increasing, but is 12 tests so far enough? 

Twelve West Virginians have been tested for coronavirus with 11 negative results and one still pending, officials said this morning.

That’s a lower number than surrounding states, which have higher populations, but West Virginia officials said that’s been adequate so far. DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch discussed that this morning on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”

Bill Crouch, @WV_DHHR Secretary, joins @HoppyKercheval to discuss if there’s anything new about COVID-19 in West Virginia. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/H23AhIptWZ

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) March 13, 2020

Question from Hoppy: “Why aren’t we testing more and should we be testing more?”

Crouch: “I’ve said from Day 1 we’re low risk. We’re lower risk than other states.”

In the past he has cited lower levels of international travel

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 13, 2020

Crouch cites 11,000 people tested in U.S.

South Korea, he says, 230,000 people “so we do need to do more widespread testing. We’re looking and hoping for more testing as we go forward here.”

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 13, 2020

The standard for testing remains tight.

Testing focus in West Virginia has been on those who who are showing symptoms consistent with Covid-19 and who have credible reason for exposure such as recent travel to an area with an outbreak.

Or: individuals who are seriously ill, sometimes to the extent that they have had to be hospitalized, consistent with the virus’ symptoms but without exposure history.

Providers are first asked to rule out other causes, state officials have said.

West Virginia gained the ability to send tests to the state lab last weekend. Before that, tests had to go to the CDC.

This morning, Crouch said commercial providers are now coming online to run tests.

Crouch: “We’re looking to test as much as we can. We have better capability coming online.”

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 13, 2020

10:11 a.m . Justice says he will close schools if need to do so looks inevitable.

Gov. Jim Justice appeared on MetroNews’ “Talkline” this morning. What to do about K-12 schools was the lead topic.

.@WVGovernor joins @HoppyKercheval to discuss the latest on COVID-19 in West Virginia. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/7Et9vTzlK3

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) March 13, 2020

Justice acknowledges those discussions have been happening.

“Ultimately I’m sure that decision will come to rest at my feet.”

“If it looks like we’re going to have to close the schools then there’s no ‘looks like’ with me. We close right now.”

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 13, 2020

9:58 a.m. West Virginia’s biggest city and county to have joint press conference about response

Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin and Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper will have a press conference at 1 p.m. Friday to discuss preparation.

Meanwhile, a Unified Health Command was established today to aid in Kanawha County’s COVID-19 preparation after weeks of initial meetings with leaders throughout the county.

Led by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, the command will include representatives from Kanawha County, the City of Charleston, Kanawha County Schools, Kanawha County Metro 911, Charleston Area Medical Center, Thomas Health and the Putnam County Health Department. At this time, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kanawha County or the State of West Virginia.

Charleston/Kanawha response press conference this afternoon pic.twitter.com/e0zUTgOZxe

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 13, 2020

9:53 a.m. University of Charleston also moves to off-campus learning 

The university issued this statement this morning:

After careful analysis, UC will be transitioning all Charleston and Beckley campus in-seat classes to online instruction.  The last day of in-seat classes will be Thursday March 19, 2020, and the first day of online instruction will be Monday March 23, 2020.

Students are required to move out of their residence hall rooms by Sunday March 22 at 4 p.m.  Classes are cancelled Friday March 20 to allow students three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) to transition out of campus housing. Students leaving the residence halls will receive room and board prorated credit for the vacated time.  Since classes will be continuing, there are no tuition refunds.

Students for whom moving out at this time represents a challenge or hardship, may apply to remain in the residence halls by completing and submitting the Special Housing Request form by Tuesday, March 17th at 5p.m.

At this time, no changes in instruction or scheduling will occur for students, faculty, and staff in our Online programs.

All course-related international travel trips are cancelled, and all University-related travel will require supervisor approval.

UC is still planning to hold its commencement as scheduled on Saturday, May 2.

All UC employees will continue to work their normal schedules, and university offices will be open on their regular schedules.

9:38 a.m. All after-school activities, including practices and games shut down

Very Important Message!!!

The WV State Superintendent just shut down all after school activities including practices and games. Will re-evaluate on April 10th.

— W. VA. Coaches Assoc (@WVSACA) March 13, 2020

That happened after a meeting with county schools superintendents

State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch met with county superintendents this morning about the Coronavirus. Burch has been in constant contact with state health officials and is keeping counties updated. For more information visit https://t.co/uTfWTasz7W pic.twitter.com/wxEOVgsDt4

— WV Dept of Education (@WVeducation) March 13, 2020

On Thursday the governor and the Secondary Schools Activities Commission agreed to halt the state girls basketball tournament, which was already underway, as well as boys tournament that was scheduled for next week.

9:33 a.m.Capitol, perhaps West Virginia’s most public building, takes precautions

Visitors to the state Capitol these days must go through a metal detector to enter. Now those metal detector stations have Lysol and disinfectant wipes right on hand.

The Capitol isn’t closing to visitors, said Administration Secretary Allan McVey, but it is being wiped down.

6:43 a.m. Governor Justice plans another update today

Gov. Jim Justice has announced another 11 a.m. update today on coronavirus precautions. At the end of a Thursday update, Justice said such updates would be regular — probably daily.

Update by ⁦@WVGovernor⁩ on Friday too pic.twitter.com/qUABgCfQcf

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 13, 2020

The announcement about today’s update gave some new numbers about coronavirus testing.

It said 12 suspected West Virginia cases have been tested with nine returning as negatives and three still pending.

West Virginia is doing its testing now at the state lab.

The standard for testing remains high.

Testing focus in West Virginia has been on those who who are showing symptoms consistent with Covid-19 and who have credible reason for exposure such as recent travel to an area with an outbreak.

Or: individuals who are seriously ill, sometimes to the extent that they have had to be hospitalized, consistent with the virus’ symptoms but without exposure history.

Providers are first asked to rule out other causes, state officials have said.

#coronavirus #testing https://t.co/voCUP3BcCi

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 13, 2020

6:31 a.m. Some West Virginia school systems open late or close early to prepare

State officials so far have said closing K-12 school systems is unnecessary, although during a Thursday news conference they mentioned taking some steps such as limiting extracurricular activities.

School systems in surrounding states such as Ohio and Maryland are taking a break for a few weeks.

In West Virginia, some school systems were bringing in students later than usual today or closing early to clean and prepare for possible actions related to coronavirus.

All schools in #Marshall Co on a 2-hr delay Fri 3/13/20 due to support material development and additional cleaning

— WV SnowDay (@WVSnowDay) March 12, 2020

All schools in #Hancock Co on a 2-hr delay Fri 3/13/20 To prepare for potential delays and cancellations due to the corona virus.

— WV SnowDay (@WVSnowDay) March 12, 2020

All schools in #Brooke Co on a 2-hr delay Fri 3/13/20

— WV SnowDay (@WVSnowDay) March 12, 2020

All schools in #Monongalia Co closing 2 hrs early Fri 3/13/20

— WV SnowDay (@WVSnowDay) March 13, 2020

7:26 p.m. Senator Capito reiterates concerns about testing availability

In a post from her official Twitter account, Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., again expressed concern about whether enough testing capacity for coronavirus is available.

“I’m concerned. I’m not 100 percent pleased with the way the CDC has rolled out the testing,” Capito said.

The 24/7 West Virginia #coronavirus hotline number: 1-800-887-4304 pic.twitter.com/okpqZAstOW

— Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) March 12, 2020

Capito said she has spoken with Gov. Jim Justice and State Health Officer Cathy Slemp.

West Virginia has tested 12 residents for COVID-19, state officials said this evening, with nine results coming back negative and three pending.

Testing focus in West Virginia has been on those who who are showing symptoms consistent with Covid-19 and who have credible reason for exposure such as recent travel to an area with an outbreak.

Or: individuals who are seriously ill, sometimes to the extent that they have had to be hospitalized, consistent with the virus’ symptoms but without exposure history.

Providers are first asked to rule out other causes, state officials have said.

“The question is, can anybody get a test?” Capito said. “And I think the best way to look at it is, if you have symptoms or if you have been exposed you’re going to be the first priority for a test.

“So I would recommend if you are feeling unwell and you have a fever or if you think you might be exposed, certainly go to your doctor or your health care facility closest to you and see about getting a test.”

Capito made similar comments this morning on MetroNews’ “Talkline.” 

File

Joe Manchin

Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.,said he has canceled public events next week. And Manchin said he has told his Washington, D.C., staff to work remotely and has told his West Virginia staff to prepare to do so.

“Public health experts have made it clear that we must take action to mitigate the spread of this virus from now until April 1st, or else risk severe consequences like we are seeing in Italy and China,” Manchin stated.

🦠 practice social distance, telework if you’re able & avoid crowds
🦠 frequently wash your hands with soap & water
🦠 wipe down surfaces with products that contain at least 60% alcohol
🦠 cancel nonessential domestic & international travel
🦠 stay home if you’re feeling sick

— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) March 12, 2020

6:37 p.m. Nursing homes limit visitors 

Stonerise Healthcare, which has 17 skilled nursing facilities in West Virginia, has announced it is limiting visitor access starting at 8 a.m. Friday.

“We made this decision, in part, following a review of the situation outside Seattle, where the virus spread through long-term care facilities very quickly and proved devastating to the senior population,” stated Larry Pack, chief executive officer at Stonerise.

Limited visitor access means no individual, regardless of reason, will be allowed to enter a facility except under specific circumstances.

Those allowed into a facility include employees, individuals directly providing end-of-life care, family members of a patient who is experiencing a life-threatening health condition or an unexpected change in health condition, or people providing other essential services to the facility.

The visitor restriction is expected to be in effect until March 27 and will continue to be evaluated.

This follows warnings from the West Virginia Health Care Association, which represents the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities, that visitor restrictions would be likely.

The West Virginia Health Care Association issued its own statement this evening:

We are very appreciative of Governor Justice and Secretary Crouch’s continued leadership during the COVID-19 outbreak. The  announcement this afternoon that skilled nursing facilities should restrict visitation is a strong, proactive measure to try to protect our residents from exposure to COVID-19.

Data clearly shows that COVID-19 has a disproportionate impact on the elderly population and the health and well-being
of our residents is our absolute top priority. Our skilled nursing centers are quickly exploring all alternative means of communication so families can remain in contact with their loved ones during this period of restricted visitation. We will continue to work with state and local officials to assess the threat facing our residents and adopt any preventative measures necessary to protect them.

Gov. Jim Justice addressed the necessity — but sorrow — of such situations as he spoke during a press conference today.

“If my mom were in one of those nursing homes and I needed to see her and she really, really needed to see me every day — and all of a sudden I can’t go, that really becomes problematic,” the governor said.

6:02 p.m. West Virginia’s court system takes precautions

A protocol announced by West Virginia’s court system encourages judicial officers to postpone proceedings that are not time
sensitive, use available technology such as conference calls and video conferencing to minimize person-to-person contact, and schedule dockets to limit the number of people gathering in large numbers.

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

Justice Tim Armstead

“We want to keep courts open, but we want to do all we can to keep people safe,”said Chief Justice Tim Armstead.

“In addition to the protocol for employees, the Court also is issuing guidance intended to ensure the safety of litigants and the public.”

The Court is also sending notices to the State Bar and notices that will be posted in courthouses. These notices will give directions to parties, attorneys, witnesses, jurors and the public.

For judicial employees, special sick leave will be provided under certain qualifying conditions. Out-of-state travel is temporarily canceled except in special circumstances and must be approved by the Administrative Director.

5:53 p.m. Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau cancels big events for 30 days

Just in from the City of Charleston, all events at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center with more than 250 people are canceled for the next 30 days. @WVMetroNews pic.twitter.com/i6cZnd26b2

— Jake Flatley (@JakeFlatley) March 12, 2020

3:56 p.m. West Virginia State University extends spring break, delays return

West Virginia State University joined colleges in West Virginia with coronavirus precautions.

Dr. Anthony Jenkins, the president of the institution, announced the extension of Spring Break through March 24 and cancellation of all campus events until April 12.

Read more: West Virginia State alters school calendar due to coronavirus

3 p.m. Justice announces basketball tournament suspension, state employee travel ban

Gov. Jim Justice announced the state high school basketball tournaments will be halted after this afternoon and a state government employee travel ban will be enacted.

The governor’s announcements came at an announcement this afternoon with state health officials at the Capitol.

Justice was set to coach a game this evening but said the games should end at the close of today’s afternoon session before new crowds come in.

“We just have got to get away from the big crowds,” Justice said.

WVSSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan announced the postponement of the girls basketball state tournament and boys basketball regional games effective immediately Thursday afternoon. #wvprepbb #wvgirlsbbhttps://t.co/bVN6QUZcb0 pic.twitter.com/I6aVcFSpmQ

— MetroNews HS Sports (@MetroNewsPrep) March 12, 2020

The travel ban only extends to state employees, but Justice urged other citizens “”I am asking all West Virginians to reconsider all non-essential travel out of this state.”

West Virginia does not yet have a confirmed case of coronavirus out of eight tests, but Justice said residents should start taking precautions to slow any spread.

“”I have to tell you just from my heart. Our elderly could be the most susceptible by far. People in excess of 60 years of age need to be concerned. They need not go and just be in big gatherings. They need to watch their health and everything they’re exposed to,” he said.

1:35 p.m. Governor Justice and officials provide update

Gov. Jim Justice and state officials were providing an update on coronavirus precautions. Watch below.

1:08 p.m. Kanawha County school group tries to return from Europe

A student group of about 28 from Kanawha County was scheduled to arrive back in the United States on Friday evening after their trip to Europe was cut short due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19.

Read more:  Kanawha County school group en route home from Europe

12 p.m. Big 12, college basketball tournaments are being canceled

The Big 12 basketball tournament, where West Virginia University was playing, was shut down immediately today because of concerns about spreading the coronavirus.

MetroNews’ Alex Hickey was at the tournament and will provide additional updates.

Read more: Big 12 commissioner Bowlsby announces tournament cancellations

WVU will be releasing a statement from Bob Huggins sometime this afternoon. It’s my understanding that the team is packing up to return to West Virginia.

— Alex Hickey (@bigahickey) March 12, 2020

Read more:  WVU cancels all athletic events and travel through March 22

Similarly, Conference USA shut down its basketball tournament, which involved Marshall University.

Conference USA has officially announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 2020 Air Force Reserve C-USA Basketball Championships, effective immediately. pic.twitter.com/tBrrJVhAFN

— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) March 12, 2020

Confirmed: The Big 12 Tournament has been cancelled.

— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) March 12, 2020

11:35 a.m. Governor Justice plans coronavirus briefing 

Gov. Jim Justice and other state officials plan a 1:30 p.m. briefing today about the state’s preparedness and response.

Governor Justice plans a coronavirus briefing today pic.twitter.com/HeQTr8OY5I

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) March 12, 2020

11:11 a.m. DHHR’s Crouch and Public Health Officer Slemp advise caution

State Health Secretary Bill Crouch and Public Health Officer Cathy Slemp said that although no coronavirus cases have been confirmed so far in West Virginia, they would not be surprised by a confirmation.

File

Dr. Cathy Slemp

“We will not be surprised to see our first case,” Slemp said. “We are watching carefully what is happening in nearby states and realizing it does move quickly.”

West Virginia has only tested eight people. There have been seven negative results and one pending.

West Virginia gained the capacity last weekend to test at the state lab, but Slemp agreed that more capacity would be better.

We have increasing calls for testing, which is great, so that is rapidly increasing.”

She added, “As a nation, we all feel like we would like more testing capacity.”

They advised caution, particularly for older people and those with diabetes, heart problems or breathing issues.

“If you’re high risk, it’s worth thinking about not going into large groupings,” Slemp said.

Slemp described attempts to flatten the curve, meaning limiting exposures to try to slow the spread and prevent strain on the medical system.

“Those early interventions can be very helpful,” she said

.@WV_DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch and State Health Officer Dr. Cathy Slemp join @HoppyKercheval with his latest insights on the coronavirus in WV. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/xJGM9EhmHL

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) March 12, 2020

11:06 a.m. Marshall President Gilbert says extending spring break, off-campus class is right call

Marshall University joined West Virginia University and its campuses in extending spring break by a week and then transitioning to off-campus, online learning.

Marshall University

Jerome Gilbert

Marshall President Jerome Gilbert said that decision was a precaution. He said the university doesn’t want students coming back from travel during spring break and then — even if they are without symptoms — spreading the virus to others.

“I’d rather overreact and be safe than come in late and be accused of spreading the disease and killing people we could have saved,” Gilbert said.

“We are very much student-centered. We want to take care of our students and their families. We don’t want this spreading to elderly family members unnecessarily.”

He said the campus will not shut down entirely. Students who need to remain in residence halls may do so through the break.

.@marshallu President .@MarshalluPres joins @HoppyKercheval to talk about their decision on coronavirus. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/Sjk7NAhf9g

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) March 12, 2020

10:18 a.m. Capito expresses frustration over testing availability

Shelley Moore Capito

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., described concern over the availability over tests for coronavirus this morning.

Read more: Capito is concerned about coronavirus testing availability, says W.Va. isn’t business as usual

“The bottom line, at least from the meeting I was in, was a frustration over testing — the availability of testing — and why don’t we have more testing as they are doing in South Korea,” Capito said on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”

“And there’s no real explanation for that except our system is set up for people to go to the doctor and be referred for a test, when in actuality we should be having more availability in our public health system.”

From state health officials yesterday: There have been 8 WV tests so far, 7 negative, one pending.

But the standard for testing is quite high.

Testing focus has been on those who who are showing symptoms consistent with Covid-19 and who have credible reason for exposure such as recent travel to an area with an outbreak, state officials said on Wednesday afternoon.

Or: individuals who are seriously ill, sometimes to the extent that they have had to be hospitalized, consistent with the virus’ symptoms but without exposure history. Providers are first asked to rule out other causes.

Capito said, “We need to know not just how many people are sick from the virus, but we need to know how many people have it so you can make calculations as to how deep or how consequential the virus actually is.”

Capito, speaking on “Talkline,” said the system needs to change, giving local health authorities more influence over testing.

“Our health system is set up for you to go to the doctor and get referred for a test, when in actuality we should have more availability of our public health systems.”

Perspective, she said, came from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“Just because we don’t have someone diagnosed in West Virginia does not mean business as usual and we should assume that there is something going on.”

She said that should influence behavior, “like practicing hygiene, telework if you can, try to avoid larger crowds, don’t get into big social gatherings.”

.@SenCapito talks with @HoppyKercheval about Coronavirus and steps to take to shore up the economy. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/abrljQzD6G

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) March 12, 2020

9:47 a.m. PEIA says it will cover 100 percent of coronavirus testing cost 

The Public Employees Insurance Agency, which covers thousands of West Virginia government workers and retirees, released a statement on Wednesday that it will cover the cost of coronavirus testing for those with the insurance.

The information is here. 

“Effective March 1, 2020, PEIA will cover COVID-19 testing at 100% of the contracted allowance, at a network provider, for members who meet CDC guidelines for testing.  This will apply to PEIA PPB Plans A, B, C and D.  This means that members will have no out-of-pocket expense for the actual test.  Deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance will also be waived for any physician or facility services incurred in the process of being tested.

“Treatment of any members, who test positive for the virus, will be covered at normal benefit levels.”

 

 

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Metronews This Morning 4-2-20

Corona virus infections continue to rise, but still run about 4 percent in West Virginia. The Mountain State is recording a second Covid 19 related death, this time in Jackson County. The primary election is delayed until June, some schools are finding issues with the distance learning software which is having trouble under heavy use and students, parents and teachers get some direction on what they should expect in this extraordinary time. In Sports, WVU A-D Shane Lyons says for now, football season is a go. Those stories and more in today’s edition.

Listen to “Metronews This Morning 4-2-20” on Spreaker.

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Politics will have to wait in West Virginia

Governor Jim Justice, after consulting with Secretary of State Mac Warner and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, has decided to postpone West Virginia’s Primary Election from May 12 to June 9. (Read more here from Brad McElhinny.)

This is the right call for a variety of reasons.

If modeling by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is right—and that changes daily depending on the data—the virus will peak in West Virginia on May 3, just nine days before the election.

If that’s accurate, our hospitals will be full, doctors and nurses will be stretched to the limit and between 9 and 27 people will die on that day from the virus. After the peak, there will be a gradual decline, but there will still be infections and deaths.

Again, that’s modeling and, as health officials have stressed over and over, West Virginians have an opportunity to flatten the curve and dramatically reduce the infection and mortality rate if we continue to follow their directives.

Yes, Warner and the clerks have put in place a system where every voter has an opportunity to use a mail-in absentee ballot, but who knows how many voters will take advantage of that?

It would be irresponsible to have workers stationed at over 1,800 separate precincts with tens of thousands of voters coming and going. The county clerks would have safety measures in place, but all that in-person voting increases the risk of contamination, especially if we are still being advised to stay home.

Sticking with the May 12 date would give the incumbents a significant advantage.  Name recognition is an important part of campaigns and many of the incumbents have had time during their term to raise their profile, while challengers are hamstrung.

The vitally important face-to-face meetings and handshaking that are the bread and butter of politics are strictly off limits. Candidates can’t go door-to-door and there are no public gatherings or group meetings where politicians can make their pitch.

Candidates are also not getting any “earned media” from the press.  Newspaper, TV and radio station news departments are preoccupied with pandemic stories.  There’s hardly any room for political candidates to gain coverage.

And finally, who is thinking about politics right now? Even those among us who would normally be dialed in to an upcoming election have other things to worry about.  And it’s probably going to be that way for at least the rest of this month.

Elections matter.

Yes, we often get tired of politics, especially as the campaign seasons get longer.  However, the result is that voters get to make their own decisions about who they want to represent them and how they expect their government to function.

Having West Virginia’s Primary Election during the pandemic—even if it is just after the expected peak—would be a disservice to the electorate and the candidates. Moving it back gives everybody a few more weeks to get their lives squared away so they have the luxury of thinking about politics again.

 

 

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