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Marshall Health set to hold HIV testing event on World AIDS Day

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Wednesday marks World AIDS Day and Marshall Health is coordinating a free, confidential HIV testing event to commemorate the day.

Marshall Health, in collaboration with the Cabell-Huntington Health Department (CHHD), Harmony House and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WV DHHR), will offer the testing Wednesday from 2 to 6 p.m. at the health department at 703 7th Ave. in Huntington.

Free flu and COVID-19 vaccinations will be available for those participating in the HIV screening, a release said.

“Increased testing, education and resources for those with positive tests and community prevention are vital to decreasing the spread of HIV,” said Jessica Ford, D.O., pediatric hospitalist fellow at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Marshall Health held similar events in December of last year and this past spring. Marshall Health’s Dr. Andrea Lauffer, an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, told MetroNews the turnout in the spring was great and many COVID shots were taken too.

Lauffer said everybody should know their HIV status.

Dr. Andrea Lauffer

“Certainly if you’re at higher risk for HIV, you should be tested more frequently. It is recommended that everybody between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once in their life,” Lauffer said.

The testing and vaccines are free and quick, Lauffer said with instant results from the testing. Insurance will not be billed and no appointments are necessary.

There is no age restriction for confidential HIV tests (parental consent is not required by law). Parental consent is required for those younger than 18 years of age for flu and COVID vaccines, a release said.

“If there are individuals that are concerned about privacy issues, they need not to be concerned. Everything is done confidentially,” Lauffer said.

Free TTA bus transportation to the health department is available and swag bags will be distributed while supplies last.

Marshall Health noted that HIV is a virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) if not treated. HIV is preventable and those at high risk may benefit from taking medication known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.

HIV/AIDS cannot be cured, but it can be treated, a health release stated. Getting tested is the only way to find out if you have HIV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in seven people with HIV in the U.S. do not know that they are infected.

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Holiday shopping back to pre-pandemic levels

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Concerns with supply chain issues, inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic did not stop consumers from buying gifts during the five-day holiday shopping weekend.

Bridget Lambert

“Overall, we’re very optimistic. It’s been a good season so far and we think it’s going to continue very strong,” West Virginia Retailers Association President Bridget Lambert told MetroNews Tuesday.

Sales increased during Black Friday, especially with many people feeling confident to shop in stores again.

“We think the personal connections that people have when they’re out shopping with other consumers or with in-store personnel, people were missing that,” Lambert said.

The National Retail Federation reported Tuesday nearly 180 million Americans shopped in stores and online from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday.

Lambert said holiday sales are expected to rise between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent this season. Much of that has to do with increased vaccinations and employees returning to work.

Supply chain issues; however, have caused some people to shop earlier this year.

“There is consumer fears of not having the product or having an order put on a back order status. They do fear that it may not come in,” Lambert said.

About 104.9 million shoppers visited stores, up from 92.3 million in 2020, according to the NRF. The overall number of online shoppers decreased to a total of 127.8 million from 145.4 million last year.

Black Friday remained the most popular day for in-store shopping and online shopping, surpassing Cyber Monday.

“We saw a slight down tick of shopping on Cyber Monday. We believe retailers brought out deals earlier this season. People started shopping in October,” Lambert said. “Online shopping has become the norm.”

The importance of supporting local businesses remained top of mind for many consumers, with 71 percent indicating they were shopping specifically for Small Business Saturday.

Morgan Morrison, owner of Rock City Cake Company in Charleston, said people made an effort to shop local.

“You have that crowd on top of the foot traffic from Holly Jolly Brawley, from everything going on downtown and the families visiting, I think overall, especially for us, it was a really good weekend,” she said Monday on “580 Live” heard on MetroNews affiliate 580-WCHS.

There was a shift in buying patterns last year. Many people turned to gifts and not experiences due to the pandemic, Lambert said.

Top gift purchases over the weekend included clothing and accessories (51 percent), toys (32 percent), gift cards (28 percent), books/music/movies/video games (28 percent) and electronics (24 percent).

The holiday shopping season runs through the end of the year.

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Crews work to contain remote fire in New River Gorge

GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Fire crews from Fayette County and the National Park Service are trying to put out a fire first noticed Monday in a steep and rugged area of the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in Fayette County.

“It’s hard to access, there’s not much in the way of trails down there. The steep terrain makes if difficult with treacherous footing and things rolling downhill, like burning logs. It creates a dangerous situation for fire fighters,” said Dave Bieri, District Supervisor for the National Park Service.

The fire has consumed about 80 acres so far in an area called Beauty Mountain. It was first noticed Monday morning and fire crews managed to reach the area Monday afternoon. However, the conditions have made it difficult to put out.

“This is kind of the season for it. We’re seeing sunny weather, with dry conditions and a little bit of a breeze which is not what you want when you’re fighting a fire,” Bieri said.

According to Bieri, crews hoped for some rain to help out on Wednesday. Until then they’re trying to build a fire line halfway up the Gorge to halt the advance.

“Down below you have a natural fire line with the railroad and the river. It hasn’t gotten up to the top of the Gorge. It’s in an area where there are no structures threatened or anything like that. We’ll try to contain it with a fire line,” he said.

Crews from the Cuyahoga National Park, the Shenandoah National Park, and the U.S. Forest Service along with state fire fighting crews are working the fire. There’s no word at this point what may have sparked the fire.

As a result of the fire, the National Park Service has closed access to some of the popular hiking trails in the park and preserve including Nuttallburg, Keeney’s Creek Rail Trail, and the Headhouse Trail. The Endless Wall Trail and both parking lots are also closed due to the fire along with the popular climbing areas from Short Creek to the Cirque.

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As covid-19 numbers persist, variant adds an additional worry for West Virginia health leaders

West Virginia officials issued urgent warnings about the state’s persistent covid-19 numbers today as a new variant adds an additional worry.

Dr. Clay Marsh

“Covid remains very active and it is ultimately important for us to make sure we are vaccinating our population fully or boosting our population that is eligible,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s top covid-19 response adviser.

One of the concerns is that West Virginia’s covid-19 numbers appear to have plateaued, rather than a full drop, following a surge a few weeks ago.

West Virginia reported 5,800 active cases of covid-19 today, down somewhat from recent days.

The state reported 561 covid-19 patients in the hospital, which is up. There were also 181 covid-19 patients in the intensive care unit and 96 who need ventilators to breathe.

West Virginia needs to be careful to not overwhelm the hospital system in the coming weeks, Marsh said.

“Our hospital capacity is very constrained,” he said.

West Virginia figures show 55 percent of the vaccine-eligible population, ages 5 and above, as fully-vaccinated.

The seven-day average of vaccinations has been generally going down. On Monday, the seven-day average was 761. The prior Monday, Nov. 22, that number was 1,591.

State leaders have been urging residents not only to get vaccinated, but — if they were vaccinated six months ago or more — to seek out a booster shot.

James Hoyer

Jim Hoyer, who leads West Virginia’s interagency task force, said 222,000 booster doses have been administered to state residents. But he said the booster distribution is still not occurring not fast enough.

“It is nowhere close to where we, West Virginia, need to be going into the winter months and with this new variant coming forward,” Hoyer said. “So West Virginians, particularly over age 50, we have got to get booster doses. We have got to get booster doses quickly,” Hoyer said.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention on Monday made a significant adjustment to its advice, recommending that all adults get a covid-19 booster shot. Before, the CDC had simply said adults may get a booster.

State officials, including Governor Justice, have been expressing urgency for weeks because West Virginia covid-19 statistics have plateaued, holiday gatherings would provide opportunities for the virus to spread and cold weather would cause people to stay indoors more.

“This surge we’re in right now is not cleaning up the hospitals. It’s still overloading the hospitals,” Justice said today. “The $64 question to ask yourself is what’s going to happen. What’s going to happen when winter comes? What’s going to happen when cold weather comes?”

Now the recently-identified omicron variant adds a new factor to that urgency.

Joe Biden

“This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” President Joe Biden said in a briefing Monday about omicron. “We have the best vaccine in the world, the best medicines, the best scientists and we’re learning more every single day — and we’ll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion.”

The best protection is vaccination, Biden said.

“I know you’re tired of hearing me say this: The best protection against this variant or any of the variants out there is getting vaccinated or getting a booster shot,” he said. “Most Americans are fully vaccinated but not yet boosted.”

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Mountaineers look to move forward from first loss in matchup at No. 16 Kentucky

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia looks to rebound from its first and only loss this season when the Mountaineers battle No. 16 Kentucky at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Memorial Coliseum.

Last week, the Mountaineers played two games at the St. Pete Showcase at Eckerd College, first defeating Purdue 65-57, before falling short against BYU in the championship, 58-57.

“We just turned the ball over so many times,” WVU head coach Mike Carey said. “It’s a shame, because if we’d have not turned the ball over so much against BYU, we would’ve been in great shape. We just weren’t aggressive enough, which surprises me. I was really surprised where they were doubling our posts and hedging hard on the guards that we weren’t more aggressive. That was a little bit disappointing.”

The Mountaineers and Cougars both had 23 turnovers, but BYU shot nearly 50 percent from the field compared to West Virginia making 22-of-54 shots.

WVU (4-1) built a 10-point first-quarter lead and went into halftime with a 37-29 advantage before things took a turn for the worse. By the time the fourth quarter began, BYU led 45-44 after the Mountaineers made only three third-quarter field goals and turned it over seven times

Two field goals from Esmery Martinez allowed WVU to pull even at 54 and 56, before the Cougars went ahead on two Shaylee Gonzales free throws with 3 seconds to play.

Out of a timeout, Carey was pleased with his team’s execution, which led to Kari Niblack getting fouled and having an opportunity to send the game to overtime. Niblack made her first foul shot, but the second one was off the mark, allowing the Cougars to prevail.

“It was a set play to bring everybody to the ball and throw it overtop to [Niblack],” Carey said. “She got fouled and it was exactly what we thought would happen. The first thing I said was, ‘Kari it wasn’t your fault.’ It shouldn’t have come down to that. Those twenty-three turnovers and [BYU’s] offensive rebounds at the end were the difference. It definitely wasn’t the foul shots.”

Martinez, who Carey said was sick throughout the trip, led WVU with 18 points and KK Deans added 17 against BYU.

“This is why you play these games,” Carey said. “We have to learn what we need to work on. They were small at times. I’m trying to match up to what they were doing. We tried some different things.

“The bottom line is we played well enough to win — we just turned the ball over. I hate to lose games that way when you get lackadaisical with the ball. There were times we were so soft with the ball. That’s not us. Those are things we have to get better at.”

Esmery Martinez defends. Photo by Greg Carey/WVMetroNews.com

Deans had a team-high 12 points against Purdue, while reserves A’riana Gray (10 points) and Savannah Samuel (8 points, 4-of-5 shooting) gave Carey’s team a big lift off the bench during its victory in the Sunshine State.

West Virginia forced 47 turnovers over the two games at the St. Pete Showcase.

“Some players came off the bench and did a good job,” Carey said. “I saw a lot of good things, too.”

Now the Mountaineers try to rebound against the Wildcats in what marks the final year of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Since the event expanded to its 10-team format for the 2016-2017 season, West Virginia is 4-1 in it, including 2-0 on the road.

“Me personally, I wanted to renew it, but it’s not being renewed,” Carey said. “This is over and the SEC is going with another league now. It gives you a Power 5 game that’s scheduled for you and that’s good. It goes home and home every other year. I liked it, but this is the last year for it.”

The Wildcats (4-1) won their first two games, before losing at Indiana. They’ve responded with two more wins since their lone setback.

Six-foot-2 forward Dre’una Edwards and 6-2 guard Rhyne Howard pace the UK attack and both average 19.2 points.

Edwards is shooting better than 64 percent from the field and averaging nearly seven rebounds.

Howard is UK’s top rebounder with a 7.8 average and tied for the team lead with 23 assists.

Robyn Benton, a 5-9 guard, and 5-7 guard Jada Walker are averaging 13.6 and 11 points, respectively.

“Sometimes they’ll go five out. All five of them will push the ball on the break,” Carey said. “They’ll go small sometimes. They have two elite scorers. They play hard. They’ll trap you out of mostly a 1-2-2, three-quarter court with Howard at the top. She’s very athletic. She’s a top 5 draft choice going into this year and she can score the basketball.

“But I’ve always been the type, let’s defend everybody. We’re not just worrying about her. She’s going to get her 20 and then we can’t give someone else a career night. I don’t want to do that. Transition defense will be very important and taking care of the basketball is again going to be very important.”

Deans leads West Virginia with an average of 15 points. The 5-8 guard has registered double figure scoring in 18 straight games dating back to last season.

Martinez is averaging 13.2 points and a team-best 7.4 rebounds.

WVU is 1-2 in the all-time series with Kentucky.

“I said after the [BYU] game, we should’ve won that game,” Carey said. “We really should’ve won that game, but there’s always going to be one or two I’ll say we shouldn’t have won the game and we do. It evens out as the season goes on.”

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Nitro council member, teacher announces run for House seat

NITRO, W.Va. — A city council member and school teacher in Nitro is throwing his hat into the ring for a House of Delegates seat in 2022.

Andy Shamblin, a Republican, announced his candidacy for House of Delegates District 59 on Tuesday during an appearance on MetroNews flagship 580-WCHS in Charleston. The new district is a product of the 100 single-member Delegate districts in the state-approved in October.

Andy Shamblin

The district is in Kanawha County and includes nearly 70% of Nitro and the Cross Lanes area to Tyler Mountain. Shamblin said Dianna Graves (R-Kanawha) currently serves in the new district where she previously served in 38.

Shamblin said he feels like he can bring leadership to the district. Shamblin was elected to Nitro City Council in 2012 at age 21 and said he has learned the value of being bipartisan.

“After my service on city council, I have learned how to work with people. I would like to see us as a state and district work to solve our problems together, with each other,” he said on 580-LIVE.

Shamblin said he teachers mainly seniors at Nitro High School in subjects such as civics and AP government. Along with serving on council, he said there would be no learning curve in the legislature.

“I feel like I am knowledgeable about how the legislature works, what the legislative process is. I understand how all of that goes together because I teach it every day,” Shamblin said.

He said his focuses would be on improving the education system and public schools along with focusing on economic development.

Shamblin said voters would see a clear contrast between himself and Graves, particularly in education. Graves voted to pass the omnibus education bill in 2019 that included charter schools. Shamblin said in his 10 years in public life, he has never had a constituent come to him and say charter schools would improve public schools.

“I’m not necessarily saying there is no place for what people refer to as school choice. I think in certain circumstances, something like a charter school could be beneficial. That’s if they are offering something that the public school system is not offering,” Shamblin said.

The 2022 primary election in West Virginia is scheduled for May 10.

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DHHR: Active COVID cases on the decline, 31 deaths added Tuesday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Active COVID-19 cases fell again Tuesday to 5,800, according to the state state Department of Health and Human Resources.

There were 31 new deaths, bringing the total pandemic death total to 4,868.

Confirmed deaths include a 85-year old female from Putnam County, a 54-year old male from Wayne County, a 77-year old male from Mason County, a 53-year old female from Harrison County, a 72-year old female from Boone County, a 70-year old female from Harrison County, an 83-year old female from Wood County, a 78-year old male from Fayette County, a 70-year old female from Harrison County, a 71-year old male from Raleigh County, a 104-year old male from Kanawha County, an 83-year old male from Kanawha County, an 85-year old male from Marion County, a 61-year old female from Putnam County, a 67-year old male from Pocahontas County, a 93-year old female from Pocahontas County, an 83-year old female from Logan County, an 84-year old male from Nicholas County, an 80-year old female from Webster County, an 81-year old male from Preston County, a 72-year old male from Hancock County, an 82-year old male from Marion County, a 72-year old female from Nicholas County, a 63-year old male from Mineral County, a 58-year old male from Cabell County, a 76-year old male from Jackson County, a 76-year old female from Marion County, a 77-year old male from Hardy County, a 95-year old male from Berkeley County, a 79-year old female from Harrison County, and a 47-year old female from Wirt County.

DHHR reports as of November 30, 2021, there are currently 5,800 active COVID-19 cases statewide. There have been 31 deaths reported since the last report, with a total of 4,868 deaths attributed to COVID-19. https://t.co/y6YECXZyEH pic.twitter.com/FOfJwAwXJu

— WV Department of Health & Human Resources • 😷 (@WV_DHHR) November 30, 2021

The state DHHR added 780 new cases Tuesday.

Hospitalizations remain unchanged from Monday’s report at 566.

CURRENT ACTIVE CASES PER COUNTY: Barbour (45), Berkeley (521), Boone (78), Braxton (34), Brooke (73), Cabell (265), Calhoun (27), Clay (21), Doddridge (29), Fayette (177), Gilmer (10), Grant (50), Greenbrier (70), Hampshire (91), Hancock (97), Hardy (61), Harrison (267), Jackson (61), Jefferson (229), Kanawha (380), Lewis (86), Lincoln (61), Logan (95), Marion (174), Marshall (115), Mason (62), McDowell (59), Mercer (277), Mineral (95), Mingo (109), Monongalia (177), Monroe (42), Morgan (81), Nicholas (156), Ohio (180), Pendleton (30), Pleasants (21), Pocahontas (16), Preston (107), Putnam (176), Raleigh (253), Randolph (55), Ritchie (13), Roane (41), Summers (29), Taylor (63), Tucker (5), Tyler (27), Upshur (84), Wayne (94), Webster (43), Wetzel (54), Wirt (23), Wood (272), Wyoming (39).

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Rich Rodriguez to be introduced as Jacksonville State’s head coach Tuesday

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Former WVU head coach and Marion County native Rich Rodriguez will be introduced as the new head coach at Jacksonville State Tuesday afternoon. JSU is a Football Championship Subdivision school in Jacksonville, Alabama. They will transition to Conference USA for the 2023 season. The Gamecocks finished 5-6 this season.

Rodriguez comes to Jacksonville State from Louisiana-Monroe, where he served as the associate head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Terry Bowden this season.

In seven seasons as WVU’s head coach (2001-2007), Rodriguez led the Mountaineers to a 60-26 record. West Virginia claimed Big East titles in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007. After leaving WVU, Rodriguez had head coaching stints at Michigan and Arizona. Rodriguez was the offensive coordinator at Mississippi in 2019.

A press conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday to introduce Rodriguez at JSU.

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Pair of WVU players announce intention to transfer

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Offensive lineman Parker Moorer and bandit VanDarius Cowan have announced their intentions to transfer from the WVU football program. Both made the announcements on social media Tuesday morning.

Moorer is a native of Charlotte, N.C. and is a redshirt sophomore who appeared in ten games in each of the last two seasons.

1Love. #52Out pic.twitter.com/1Qw21LWX7d

— Parker Moorer (@PMoorer52) November 30, 2021

Cowan was in the WVU program for four seasons after transferring from Alabama in 2018. In the last three seasons, Cowan played in sixteen games and collected 38 tackles. Cowan did not play in West Virginia’s final two games this season.

💙💛💙💛 pic.twitter.com/LtNANVv7Ek

— VanDarius Cowan (@vandarius98) November 30, 2021

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Par Mar Stores MetroNews Top Plays – Week 14

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Check out the top plays from around West Virginia in the fourteenth week of the high school football season.

 

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