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Monongalia County health officials ready for possible surge

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Officials in Monongalia County are taking an active approach to identifying and quarantining COVID-19 positive residents in an effort to stop the spread.


Dr. Lee Smith

There are 78 cases in the county and contact tracing and monitoring is being conducted, according to Monongalia County Health Officer Dr. Lee Smith.

“If there is a positive person we do active surveillance,” Smith said during an appearance Friday on Enthrones “Alkaline.” “Meaning, we are required by law to contact the person every day to see if there are other individuals in their circle that are symptomatic.”

Fourteen WV students tested positive this week and are being monitored by officials. Smith said they had traveled for spring break.

“What we’re not clear on at this time- were there people who became infected while they were at Panama City, Fort Lauderdale, Cancun, or wherever on spring break or did they come back to Morgantown and contract it locally,” he said.

Dr. Lee Smith, Health Director @WVMCHD, joins @HoppyKercheval to discuss how Monongalia County is handling the COVID-19 pandemic. WATCH:

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) April 10, 2020

The actual total number of Monomania County is likely low because some people are quarantining and isolating on their own, Smith said.

“Probably only diagnosing somewhere around 20 percent of the cases, meaning there are other people that have gone into quarantine or they gone into quarantine or they’re self-isolating because they are symptomatic,” Smith said. “So if you multiply that 78 we probably have closer to 140 cases.”

Smith adds that the surge is expected next week and Monongalia County appears to be ready according to the latest models.

“Monongalia County has enough beds, ventilators and hospital staff,” Smith said. “So, we will not fall behind like New York did.”

Smith said using all protective equipment available because the virus is known to remain viable for extended periods of time without a host.

“Even on stainless steel the virus can last a very long time and you don’t get to wipe down the gas pump handle or the keypad when you’re checking out at the grocery store,” Smith said. “So it’s very important for people to wear the protection they have access to.”

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W.Va. public colleges get $55 million in federal relief

West Virginia’s colleges and universities now know how much federal relief they will receive during uncertain times caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Education released its plan for distributing $14 billion to higher education institutions across the nation.

Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker

Sarah Armstrong Tucker, West Virginia’s higher education chancellor, said the amount going to public colleges and universities in the state is $55 million.

Additional money is available for West Virginia’s private colleges.

Of the total, half must go to students as emergency aid grants to help cover campus expenses related to disruptions caused by the pandemic.

“So those things could include grants for course materials and technology, food, housing, healthcare childcare — all of those things that students have had to unexpectedly pay for during this disruption in their education,” she said.

Dr. Sarah Tucker joins @HoppyKercheval to discuss how WV’s colleges are handling COVID-19. WATCH:

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) April 10, 2020

West Virginia University, the state’s largest institution, would receive $20,174,232, according to the guidance released by the U.S. Department of Education.

The student grant portion of that total is $10,087,116.

In troubled times, the money is welcome, said West Virginia University spokesman John Bolt.

“Yes, certainly,” Bolt said today. “For example, it makes it possible to be able to provide emergency financial assistance to students.”

Marshall University has a $9,003,939 total allocation with $4,501,970 of that in grants to students.

Fairmont State University is allocated a total $3,426,559 with $1,713,280 of that for students.

Shepherd University is allocated $2,679,616 with $1,339,808 for students.

West Liberty University pulls down $2,246,663 with $1,123,332 for students.

Concord University gets $2,057,014 with $1,028,500 for students.

West Virginia State University gets $1,650,103 with $825,052 for students.

Glenville State College gets $1,440,768 — $720,384 for students.

Bluefield State College gets $1,296,174 — $648,087 for students.

The unexpected cancellation of on-campus classes has caused financial uncertainty for the colleges, Tucker acknowledged.

“I think they can hang on until they get this money, but the cash flow problems are very real,” she said.

West Virginia University and then Marshall and then the rest of the colleges extended their spring breaks a month ago — and then announced that classes would resume through distance learning.

“They were expensive decisions to make,” Tucker said.

“The colleges are stepping up in the right way, but hopefully this bill will be able to backfill some of those costs.”

Marshall, for example, is refunding students nearly $4.6 million in fees from services they are not using while campus is closed for the spring semester.

.@marshallu is refunding students unused fees including room and board, meal plans, parking, and Rec Center to the tune of nearly $4.6 million.

Today I spoke with @MarshalluPres on the decision and more decision’s that are ahead.

— Jake Flatley (@JakeFlatley) April 9, 2020

West Virginia University this week canceled in-person classes through summer, and other colleges were following suit.

“I believe all have decided that will be the case. I don’t think anyone is holding out hope yet of having in-person summer classes,” Tucker said.

— Mike McCullough (@MikeMcC_MN) April 10, 2020

Tucker hopes classes will resume on campus as normal in the fall, but that depends on what conditions emerge over the next couple of months.

“We’re all very worried about what is going to happen in the fall, what enrollment is going to do,” she said. “We’re just trying to remain steady as long as we can.”

She urged people to abide by social distancing guidelines now so that life might return to normal by fall.

“If we continue to do that, I think there is a strong possibility we will be on campus in the fall,” Tucker said. “But if we don’t and we start to slide, then I think that’s a real question.”

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Freezing temperatures in forecast for many counties

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Those who got an early start on their flower or vegetable gardens may want to cover their plants Friday night with a freeze warning in effect.


The warning covers central and southern coalfield counties.

The National Weather Service has issued the warning for most central and southern coalfield counties. Temperatures are expected to tip to 32 degrees.

Counties included in the warning are Wayne, Cabell, Mason, Jackson, Wood, Pleasants, Tyler, Lincoln, Putnam, Kanawha, Roane, Wirt, Calhoun, Ritchie, Doddridge, Mingo, Logan, Boone, Clay, Braxton, Gilmer, Lewis, Harrison, Taylor, McDowell and Wyoming.

The state’s eastern panhandle counties are under a freeze watch.

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Boone blaze damages apartment building

WHITESVILLE, W.Va. — A Friday morning fire heavily damaged a Boone County apartment building.

No injuries were reported in the blaze that took place in Whitesville. The fire did displace about 20 people who lived there. The Red Cross was called in to assist them.

The blaze was reported at about 12:30 a.m.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire.

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Ohio defensive end Hammond Russell commits to West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Football may be temporarily shut down, but West Virginia’s next recruiting class continues to grow.

The Mountaineers received their second Class of 2021 commitment this week as Hammond Russell, a defensive end from Dublin, Ohio, pledged to WVU on Good Friday.

More money more problems respect my decision

— hammond russell (@Lildukes3) April 10, 2020

Russell is a 6-foot-3, 235-pound weakside defensive end whom Rivals rates as a 3-star recruit.

West Virginia lucked out on landing Russell in at least one regard. He had already taken two visits to campus prior to the massive shutdown created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Russell had to cancel a scheduled visit to Purdue on March 22 — to name just one example — and decided he liked enough of what he had seen at West Virginia.

Russell also fielded offers from Pitt, Michigan State and Georgia Tech.

Defensive line coach Jordan Lesley and tight ends coach Travis Trickett were Russell’s primary recruiters. He is projected to be able to either play as a hand-in-the-ground defensive end, or potentially at the bandit position that WVU had trouble filling last season.

West Virginia’s commitments for 2021

Hammond Russell Dublin, Ohio 6-3, 235 DE 3-star
Will “Goose” Crowder Birmingham, Ala. 6-3, 192 QB 3-star
Wyatt Milum Huntington, W.Va. 6-6, 280 OL 4-star
Saint McLeod Philadelphia, Pa. 5-11, 190 Safety 3-star
Andrew Wilson-Lamp Massilon, Ohio 6-3, 175 WR 3-star
Viktor Wikstrom Stockholm, Sweden 6-3, 235 TE 3-star

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Golf courses have already taken social distancing steps; WVGA sees Justice order as reinforcement

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The executive director of the West Virginia Golf Association views Gov. Jim Justice’s executive order about golf as a good reinforcement of what golf courses are already doing.


Brad Ullman

WVGA’s Brad Ullman said those who operate courses are stressing social distancing, limiting cart ridership to one–unless the riders live in the same home–and eliminating common touching areas.

“We love going fishing in the rivers and streams in West Virginia just as much as we love going to the beautiful golf courses of the state and I think the governor’s order reinforces the fact that people need to be smart about this and be safe about it. It offers up additional guidance about the safety and well-being,” Ullman told MetroNews Friday.

Gov. Justice signed the order Thursday

“This is just another heads up that people have given us,” Justice said. “We’re trying to keep our outdoor spaces open but people are telling us that people are not complying to social distancing.”

Ullman said golf courses are a natural place for social distancing.

“Golf courses are over the span of a couple hundred acres and the opportunities for social distancing is there and we hope that with the latest order from the governor that golfers will continue to heed that type of information and continue to play golf,” Ullman said.

Specifically, some courses have gone to all walking while others have implemented cart riding restrictions. Most all have eliminated bunker rakes and put into place special provisions to make sure no one touches flag sticks.

“All the golf courses have implemented rules that say the flag stick must remain in the hole,” Ullman said. “Therefore limiting the amount of touching that will take place on the flag stick.”

The WVGA is able to track business and golf courses and Ullman said it’s been busy for this time of year.

“Hopefully it’s a refuge for people to maybe take a little time to get away from the chaos that’s going on right now and we truly believe golf is a good way of doing that,” he said.

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Nursing homes express concern about protective equipment supplies

The association that represents nursing homes in West Virginia is expressing concerns about the supply of personal protective equipment now available for staff.

Marty Wright

Early on, as nursing homes sought to protect patients and staff from the spread of coronavirus, industry leaders expected to have enough supplies on hand to get to Easter.

“We’ve hit that six-week mark, and sadly supplies are drying up,” Marty Wright, director of the West Virginia Health Care Association, said today on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”

That means equipment like masks, gloves, gowns and face shields.

Marty Wright, chief executive of the West Virginia Health Care Association, talks with @HoppyKercheval about personal protective equipment in nursing homes. WATCH:

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) April 10, 2020

Nursing homes, with their aging populations, are considered among the most vulnerable to the spread of virus.

A month ago, the state’s nursing homes put heightened visitation restrictions in place.

But, the Health Care Association warned this morning:

“The State of West Virginia’s early, aggressive protections of the elderly and vulnerable residents against COVID-19 in long-term care facilities are at risk of being nullified if the supplies of personal protective equipment, or PPE, continue to dry up.”

The association noted that 20,000 health care workers care for nearly 12,000 residents in long-term care in West Virginia.

The coronavirus has struck residents and staff at several West Virginia facilities such as Sundale Nursing Home in Morgantown, Charleston Gardens in Kanawha County, Eastbrook Center in Charleston and now Wayne Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.

Two residents of Sundale have been among West Virginia’s five coronavirus-related deaths.

The West Virginia Health Care Association put out a news release today, expressing concern about the level of personal protective equipment available for staff at facilities.

“Many facilities have been trying for weeks to find alternative sources, even paying outrageous prices, only to see orders go unfulfilled or indefinitely delayed,” Wright stated in the release.

He said some members of the community have reached out to try to help, and the National Guard has also tried to assist.

“Where we are right now is, we’re managing, we’re very close to hitting that mark where we need more very quickly,” Wright said on “Talkline.” “It’s not for lack of trying.”

He said the press release and statewide radio appearance are meant to encourage supply chains to open up.

“We’re putting the ask out,” Wright said. “Any more assistance we can get would be greatly appreciated.”

WVHCA Statement PPE 4 10 20 (Text)

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DHHR: State positive test rate for coronavirus remains below 4 percent

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The first of two scheduled releases of confirmed coronavirus cases by the state Department of Health and Human Resources Friday put the total confirmed cases at 536, an increase of 13 positive cases since the agency’s Thursday evening report.

The state said 14,001 of the 14,537 tests given have been negative. The state is still reporting five deaths.

The positive test rate for West Virginia is 3.69 percent.

There’s another release of numbers scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday.

The breakdown by county Friday morning included:

Barbour (4), Berkeley (83), Boone (1), Braxton (1), Brooke (2), Cabell (17), Fayette (1), Greenbrier (3), Hampshire (2), Hancock (7), Hardy (2), Harrison (28), Jackson (20), Jefferson (44), Kanawha (74), Lewis (2), Logan (8), Marion (31), Marshall (6), Mason (6), McDowell (4), Mercer (7), Mineral (3), Monongalia (76), Morgan (4), Nicholas (2), Ohio (21), Pendleton (1), Pleasants (1), Preston (6), Putnam (11), Raleigh (5), Randolph (3), Roane (3), Taylor (3), Tucker (3), Tyler (2), Upshur (2), Wayne (16), Wetzel (3), Wirt (1), Wood (16), Wyoming (1).

.@WV_DHHR reports as of 10:00 a.m., on April 10, 2020, there have been 14,537 residents tested for #COVID19, with 536 positive, 14,001 negative and five
deaths. #StayHomeWV

— WV DHHR (@WV_DHHR) April 10, 2020

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Marshall’s Jarrod West enters name into NBA Draft process

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall point guard Jarrod West will see where he stands amongst NBA Draft hopefuls.

West and Marshall announced Thursday evening that he will enter his name into the NBA Draft pool, which allows him to work out for NBA teams and potentially earn an invitation to the NBA scouting combine with the opportunity to return to school next year.

“I am going to try to be as receptive as possible,” West said. “I am going to try to gather as much information as I can to help me and benefit my game. At the end of the day, that will be better for our team as well.”

Our Bulldog @jarrod_west has announced he’ll enter the 2020 NBA Draft, while remaining eligible to comeback to Huntington! #BringOnTheHerd | #RiseAsOne

— Marshall Men’s Basketball (@HerdMBB) April 9, 2020

West’s former teammate and Marshall’s all-time leading scorer Jon Elmore recently went through the draft process following his junior season and Elmore has already given West the lay of the land.

“Jon was one of the first people I talked to. We have been talking a good bit over the last couple weeks about what to expect and what I need to do and the necessary steps I need to prepare for the draft.”

West starred for his father, a former WVU standout, at Notre Dame High School, leading the Fighting Irish to the 2017 Class A state championship while winning the Evans Award as the state’s top player.

West was a third team all-Conference USA selection as a junior, averaging 14.2 points, 4.1 assists and 4 rebounds per game. He led the league in steals and minutes played.

“Early on playing a different role, I needed to be a lot better just controlling the game. I was really feeling comfortable leading the team and controlling the team in every way. I feel like I have a really good pulse for leading the team.”

As West himself noted, he’ll likely return to the Thundering Herd next season, using the experience as a chance to better hone his game for next year’s draft.

“We’ve got all our starters back and all our bench guys back. We have a lot of guys who played a lot of minutes. We should really hit the ground running next year and get off to a good start. So I have high expectations for us.”

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Metronews This Morning 4-10-20

An outbreak of Covid 19 in a Wayne County nursing home. An eastern panhandle health leader says we’re doing a poor job with our social distancing. Unemployment claims are starting to be processed faster. An executive order limits us to one per golf cart. In Sports, Fairmont’s David Carpenter visits with Metronews to talk about his amazing baseball career. Those stories and more in today’s episode.

Listen to “Metronews This Morning 4-10-20” on Spreaker.

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Source: WV MetroNews