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Teachers say engagement should continue for rest of school year

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Classroom teachers throughout West Virginia are reaching their students in various ways while outside of their classrooms because of the coronavirus.

Wayne County 4th Grade teacher Amber McCoy has been reading to her kids on Facebook and she’s set up a time for them to read back to her what they’ve written in their journals. She’s also been teaching various lessons through social media.

“Is the instruction that they’re receiving as good as it would be in the classroom? It’s not. But any time we can keep the students engaged and keep them from regressing it’s a win for us,” McCoy said during an appearance Monday on MetroNews “Talkline.”

Amber McCoy, a 4th grade teacher in Wayne County, speaks with @HoppyKercheval about her approach to teaching online. WATCH: https://t.co/jmMe7bOYY9 pic.twitter.com/GSHhbCP2jj

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) April 6, 2020

Monongalia County middle school teacher Heather Deluca-Nestor said her county was prepared for distance learning through its Arctic Academy system but the length of the closure has tested the program.

“Mon County is very fortunate, because of our levy we have one-to-one Chromebooks with all our students K-12,” Deluca-Nestor said Monday on “Talkline.” “However, I think only second grade and up has taken those Chromebooks home.”

When the closure was announced they were prepared with five days of lesson plans. They quickly doubled that total and made sure students could work offline if connectivity is an issue. Nestor says as the closure continued they realized changes had to be made.

“The main focus is to reach our kids, to talk to them and make sure they’re ok,” Deluca-Nestor, who teaches at South Middle School said. “These times are not normal and we want to create some normalcy. They’re used to seeing us everyday and we’re used to seeing them.”

She said they want to prevent as much anxiety as they can by keeping the lines of communication open.

Heather DeLuca-Nestor, an eighth grade teacher in Monongalia County, talks to @HoppyKercheval about how she is working with her students through the COVID-19 pandemic. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/2nQICDXZa5

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) April 6, 2020

Woodrow Wilson High School Social Studies teacher John Quesenberry has been able to reach his Beckley area students in a number of ways. He said they’ve had afternoon discussions on various topics.

Quesenberry said he’d love to be able to return to school but if not, he wants to continue the remote learning opportunities.

“I definitely don’t think we should shut it down–that’s just giving up on them,” Quesenberry said on “Talkline.” “Even if we were only to reach a handful that’s a handful of kids who are going to get something out of it. That are going to improve.”

John Quesenberry, a high school social studies teacher in Raleigh County, joins @HoppyKercheval to discuss how he is reaching his students during the COVID-19 pandemic. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/qCf7tyDRXd

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) April 6, 2020

Gov. Jim Justice’s closure order currently goes through April 30. A bipartisan group of leading lawmakers has called for Justice to order schools closed for the rest of the year. Justice has said on multiple occasions he supports a return to the schools buildings if possible, even if it’s only for a few weeks.

Quesenberry said that would be welcomed news.

“There are some activities that I wanted to do in class that I can’t really do online,” he said. “Just for logistics it would be good for collecting books, collecting iPads and if seniors could have their graduation and if they don’t they could pick up their diplomas.”

McCoy said maybe the buildings won’t reopen this school year but the engagement should continue.

“For me the biggest reason that we need to continue the school year is because school is a safe place for a lot of students and it guarantees someone is going to be checking in with those students,” she said.

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West Virginia Chinese Association donates $10,000 for equipment

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia Chinese Association has donated $10,000 to WVU Medicine for supplying medical personnel and people in need with protective materials.

The Morgantown-based non-profit aims to connect Chinese professionals and their families in West Virginia.

“In Morgantown, we have about 2,000 to 2,500 Chinese residents,” vice president Wanhong Zheng said. “We’ve been communicating with people in China for the last few months, and we knew personal protective equipment would be in demand.”

Zheng said with the contribution, professionals purchased 5,000 face masks, which are being distributed. The Bartlett House, which assists the homeless population, has received 500 masks as well as gloves and hand sanitizer.

“We know the Bartlett House very well, they have been helping a lot of people,” Zheng said. “If you ask me who needs these masks most, it’s people who are homeless and have nowhere to go.”

The West Virginia Chinese Association is also offering grocery shopping assistance as well as soliciting equipment donations from Chinese sources.

“We are glad we can stand together,” Zheng said. “If we can stand together, we can fight this deadly virus together and that’s very important.”

All monetary donations are being made through the WVU Foundation.

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Three Guys Before The Game – WVU’s Ron Everhart

West Virginia assistant basketball coach Ron Everhart is a world-class storyteller with a memory that never disappoints.

Ron joins the “Guys” to talk hoops from all angles. He looks back at the amazing sports competition growing up in Fairmont, playing for legendary DeMatha coach Morgan Wooten and his evolution as a coach.

Brad, Hoppy and Tony also answer listener questions that range from tattoos to revised schedules for football and basketball teams.

Join them again Thursday for a new show. In the meantime, stay distant and safe.

Text or leave a voicemail for the show anytime at 304-404-4083. Look cool by wearing Three Guys merchandise.

Never miss an episode, subscribe below.

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One positive test, more results pending for Charleston senior living home

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The number of positive COVID-19 cases at the Eastbrook Center in Charleston is up to two following testing on Monday morning, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department said.

The department (KCHD) released information on the testing of 124 residents and 39 staff members at the Chesterfield Avenue senior living center following one resident testing positive for the novel coronavirus on Sunday.

A combined team from the KCHD, the West Virginia National Guard, Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority, Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC), and the City of Charleston performed the testing with rapid testing kits and nasal swabs.

During Monday’s testing, utilizing rapid tests, one staff member was found to be positive. Residents were tested using only nasal swabs and are awaiting results.

Dr. Sherri Young

“Today (Monday) we were able to determine in minutes another positive case,” said Dr. Sherri Young, KCHD health officer and executive director.

“When I planned weeks ago to purchase rapid tests and develop a protocol for the usage of those tests, we knew that nursing homes would be potential sites for outbreaks. Rapid tests would help identify positive cases in a quick manner to help determine the need for self-isolation. I am using the tests in the best way to protect our first responders and healthcare professionals. Here I was able to order an immediate quarantine which is the only way to stop a community spread in a nursing home setting.”

All nasal swab tests collected will go to CAMC’s lab for results. Results for tests are expected within 24 to 48 hours.

The facility is taking all necessary precautions to prevent the further spread of the virus, a release said.

The latest numbers from the KCHD on Monday afternoon indicates there are 70 positive COVID-19 cases in Kanawha County.

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Poll: Americans agree with extreme COVID-19 measures, remain optimistic on future

CINCINNATI, OH — A national poll from Research America shows that a majority of Americans are willing to make significant sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic and many remain optimistic about the future.

Pollster Rex Repass, the president of Research America Inc. appeared on Monday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline’ to discuss the results of the poll based on interviews conducted between March 26-29 among a national sample of 600 adults over the age of 18.

Data collection was completed online.

“The vast majority supports strong measures including mass cancellations and closing borders,” Repass said.

Rex Repass

The results showed that 75 percent agree with the extreme measures put in place to protect people such as stay at home orders.

Breaking it down into categories, 87 percent agreed with mass cancellations and closing, 86 percent on travel bans, 86 percent on restricted visitation at hospitals, nursing homes, etc., and 82 percent of closing borders.

“Most Americans are willing to adhere to their state’s stay-at-home order if it’s for the greater good, with 69 percent saying they can accept extreme limitations for more than a month if it helps to suppress the infection rate. Two-thirds go so far as to say they don’t care how long restrictions are in place if it prevents widespread illness and death,” Repass said in a release.

On the other hand, about one-quarter of respondents, 27 percent, feel the social distancing and other limitations go too far, and only 11 percent said they worry about transmitting the virus to others, Research America reported.

As far as performance rating and who Americans are trusting the most with information, healthcare leaders including those with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) & Prevention received the highest job performance rating.

“We ask about government leaders, we ask about the healthcare professionals, we ask about the president, Congress and state governors. There’s no question that the healthcare professionals such as Dr. (Anthony) Fauci and Dr. (Deborah) Birx and the CDC are who people trust and listen to,” Repass said on ‘Talkline.’

The CDC received a 64 percent satisfaction followed by the respondent’s state’s governor, 56 percent. A plurality, 43 percent satisfied/33 percent dissatisfied with President Donald Trump, 44 percent with Vice President Mike Pence with the balance unsure or having a “wait and see attitude, Research America stated.

.@rlrepass joins @HoppyKercheval to go over some of the data Research America has collected on the country’s response to COVID-19. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/iIzTJAgLVx

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) April 6, 2020

As far as the economic impact, 20 percent of respondents are concerned about the virus causing an economic recession but only 7 percent are worried about losing their job permanently.

More results showed only 5 percent worried about their company going out of business or the loss of retirement income from stocks and 401k, 8 percent. More than half, 57 percent, feel confident that their job will be secure throughout the pandemic.

“The economic impact is severe all over the country but what people remain most concerned about is remaining healthy and their family being healthy. People are more concerned about their loved ones than themselves,” Repass said.

Overall, Americans remained optimistic about the future of the country with 40 percent saying the world will be a “better place” after the virus has been controlled, compared to 18 percent who believe the world will be worse off.

Repass said there’s no doubt the pandemic will be felt for generations to come.

“This will impact not only what is happening today but the next 20 to 40 to 50 years,” he said. “In the way people feel about their work, the way they engage, the way they talk, the way they conduct business, and the way they are engaged with their family and friends.”

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After stellar senior season, Brandon Penn ready for next challenge at Glenville State

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When Parkersburg South opened the 2019 football season, the Patriots were getting adjusted to new head coach Nathan Tanner and first-year starting quarterback Brandon Penn.

South engineered their best season in 16 years, going 11-2 and falling at eventual champion Martinsburg in the Class AAA semifinals.

Penn was a mainstay in the Patriot secondary heading into his senior season but he played sparingly at quarterback. Penn was a freshman and junior varsity signal caller in 2016, missed much of his sophomore season due to injury and played receiver as a junior. But he earned the starting spot under center in the preseason and went on to win the J.R. House Award as West Virginia’s top high school quarterback.

“Before the season I always imagined how the season would go,” Penn said. “I was mental repping everything and you always want the best outcome. Basically I lived it out.

“I knew I was good at quarterback. I just didn’t think I would be the best in the state.”

Penn threw for 2,251 yards last fall with 25 touchdowns against just 4 interceptions. He also rushed for 1,853 yards with 19 scores. While Penn’s ability to tuck and run kept opposing defenses honest, he says airing it out is his favorite way to move the ball.

“It is two different types of feelings. Running is exhilarating. But passing, you just feel like the man. You feel like you are that dude whenever you send a long dime down the field.”

Penn’s high school career came to a close with a frightening injury in the state semifinals. He suffered a pair of broken vertebrae while trying to make a tackle late in the first half.

“It was kind of traumatizing knowing that my life could change right then and there if I would have just broke it a little bit more. I am just learning to live with it and move on.”

The good news is Penn’s road to recovery is almost complete.

“I am almost done. I still have one more surgery to get the screws taken out in my back. After that there is no recovery time, it is just based off my pain. That’s the only next step that I have.”

Penn is taking his talents to Glenville State this fall, where he will play defensive back.

“The main question I get from college coaches is, ‘Which one do I like to play more?’ I said defense because it brings a lot more excitement to me. I didn’t really think I would be that good at quarterback until I started playing. If the coaches at Glenville really think that I can do good at quarterback too then I would be willing to give it a shot.”

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Modeling shows improved outlook for West Virginia, but that assumes continued precautions

A coronavirus model being closely watched by state leaders was updated recently to show an earlier peak in West Virginia but fewer predicted deaths.

State leaders said that’s a good sign that social distancing efforts are working but cautioned that an improved outlook by the model isn’t reason to let up.

Clay Marsh

“Just like the model changed in a good way because of what we’re doing it could easily flip back into a much worse way, and it’s completely because of what we do. So we can’t be complacent,” Clay Marsh, the state’s coronavirus point man said on MetroNews’ “Talkline” today.

West Virginia will reach peak at on April 16 — in about a week and a half, according to data analysis of all 50 states by The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which is affiliated with the University of Washington.

The model now predicts 182 coronavirus-related deaths in West Virginia through early August.

However, the model indicates significant uncertainty — with an upper possibility of almost 600 deaths and a lower possibility of more than 50 deaths.

Last week, the model predicted West Virginia would reach peak in early May and that there could be 495 total deaths in the state over the course of the outbreak.

Through today, West Virginia has recorded four deaths and 345 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said in a news release today that it updated its models because of “a massive infusion of new data.”

The institute indicated new data on health service use from multiple states led to revisions of the virus effects.

Christopher Murray

“As we obtain more data and more precise data, the forecasts we at IHME created have become more accurate,” stated Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

He specified that four states – Florida, Virginia, Louisiana, and West Virginia – will have peaks earlier than previously projected.

Murray also emphasized caution, saying social distancing efforts are working and should continue.

“As we noted previously, the trajectory of the pandemic will change – and dramatically for the worse – if people ease up on social distancing or relax with other precautions,” he stated.

“Our projections are strengthened by the new downturns in more regions. This is evidence that social distancing is crucial. Our forecasts assume that social distancing remains in place until the end of May.”

During a press conference with the organization today, reporter Dave Mistich of West Virginia Public Broadcasting asked a question about how the modeling reflects West Virginia’s outlook.

Murray said that there has been very little information so far specific to West Virginia, but the new data, overall, provides greater insight.

“So our general conclusion is that what we show now for West Virginia is likely more robust, but we will want to stay and watch carefully as new data comes in,” Murray said.

“If we suddenly see a big upswing for deaths that will be telling us something because we think these big upswings are related to density and use of mass transit and other factors.”

West Virginia has taken broad measures to encourage social distancing over the past few weeks.

Gov. Jim Justice ordered school buildings to be closed on March 14 and issued a stay-home order on March 25.

State officials on a daily basis have cautioned residents to keep their distance from others and to wash their hands often to slow the virus spread.

“If we continue pursuing these strategies as well as we’ve been doing, we’re going to make a big difference here,” Marsh said on “Talkline.”

“We are writing our future. We are writing the story by what we do. And we know that what we do today will have an incredible impact on mid-April, mid-May, mid-June.”

.@claymarsh, Vice President and Executive dean of WVU Health Sciences, joins @HoppyKercheval to provide an update on the COVID-19 pandemic. WATCH: https://t.co/jmMe7c6zPH pic.twitter.com/dHTIM7VJdT

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) April 6, 2020

The latest version of the model also came up several times during a regular news briefing led by the governor today.

“As the information changes, so do the models,” Marsh said during the news conference.

He said the latest version “suggests we are doing a good job.”

“But, this model is only as good as the information that is currently being fed into it.”

Marsh concluded: “I would implore you to not be complacent with this, because things can change quickly.”

When asked if the earlier peak projection provides even greater urgency to be ready with personal protective equipment, ventilators and intensive care unit beds, Marsh suggested the strain shouldn’t be as severe as it could have been because of the social distancing standards.

“We have been able to create more time through the actions of our policies and our citizens. I have confidence that we are ready,” he said.

File

Dr. Cathy Slemp

State Health Officer Cathy Slemp agreed that projections appear not as severe as first believed.

“That being said, it will get worse before it gets better,” she said.

Governor Justice said that although the projections give hope that West Virginians should buckle down.

“I commend all West Virginians again and again. We’re doing great stuff,” he said.

“Stay the course. Please stay the course. If we stay the course we hope and pray we don’t have long to go.”

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State records 4th coronavirus death

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — An elderly man died Sunday at United Hospital Center in Clarksburg of COVID-19 caused by the coronavirus.

The man, a Harrison County resident, had underlying medical conditions and was in critical condition, health officials said.

The death marked the fourth coronavirus death in the Mountain State and the second at UHC. An 88-year-old Marion County woman died there last week. Deaths have also been recorded in Jackson and Monongalia counties.

Gov. Jim Justice sent out his condolences to the man’s family during his Monday media briefing at the state capitol.

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Workforce WV worker tests positive, but state leaders say massive unemployment effort continues

An employee of Workforce West Virginia, the state agency churning through an unprecedented number of unemployment claims, is quarantining with a suspected case of the coronavirus.

But state officials said social distancing measures already put in place mean other employees will be able to carry on with the time-sensitive work of processing a historic number of claims.

Gov. Jim Justice said the employee is self-quarantining.

“The person is isolating at home. The call center has not been impacted by this situation,” he said during a news conference today.

Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, W.Va. adjutant general

Adjutant Gen. James Hoyer later described the case as a “potential positive” and agreed that self-isolation was the treatment approach.

“I think the good news is because of what was being done, it limited the exposure to one individual,” Hoyer said.

Hoyer later elaborated that more precautions are being taken — starting today — at Workforce West Virginia, including taking temperatures, as well as some screening questions.

Workforce West Virginia has been inundated with initial unemployment claims — 90,000 new claims by the end of March — as social distancing measures have resulted in the closures of businesses and tens of thousands of lost jobs.

Attempts at new claims have sometimes been delayed by the overwhelming numbers.

“We were not processing or answering the phone as prudently with all of our unemployment claims that are coming in. Our people are doing great work; they’re overcome by the number of claims,” Justice said.

Justice has directed some members of the National Guard to assist with processing.

“I am happy to report right now that we, at Workforce West Virginia, are moving toward the equivalency of having three call centers — and by that we’re spread out; we’re not going to cluster together,” he said.

“But now we have the operating ability of going 24-7.”

Asked later in today’s news conference to describe the social distancing measures at Workforce West Virginia, the governor and other state officials said they are adequate.

“They already were practicing the appropriate social distancing,” Hoyer said, adding that led to the decision to isolate just the one employee.

“There is also separation by floors, and part of the plan that the governor has directed the National Guard and other agencies help with both the call center and the processing is a distributed system across the state.”

Hoyer concluded, “The good news is, because of what was being done, it limited the exposure with the one individual.”

File

Dr. Cathy Slemp

State Health Officer Cathy Slemp agreed.

“My understanding is they were doing a great job. The call center had really taken seriously this issue,” she said.

“So they had spaced their employees; they had taken lots of good precautions to protect them. And that was a real benefit in the investigation because it was clear that the work they had done had limited any kind of exposures in the work setting.”

Democratic members of the House of Delegates, including Minority Leader Tim Miley, sent a letter last week to Justice urging some changes to Workforce West Virginia, including the ability of employees to work remotely.

The delegates also proposed bonus pay as an incentive to add personnel to Workforce West Virginia.

The letter was not made public when it was first sent to the governor but was provided today upon request.

Mike Pushkin

Today, Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, said he isn’t sure the steps so far have been enough to make employees confident in their work environment or to believe the pay is attractive under current conditions.

Pushkin noted that the district he represents — geographically — includes the Capitol complex and its workers, so he frequently hears from state employees.

“They feel they could do this job just as well remotely,” Pushkin said today.

“We need more people doing this job. We’re going to have to allow them the safety of doing this work remotely. It is understandable there would be a backlog, but the only solution is more people processing claims.

“And the only way to attract more people is to allow them a safe work environment — and right now that’s to work from home.”



Letter From HMIN Re Unemployment (Text)

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Kanawha judge issues order for ankle monitors for violators of COVID-19 quarantine

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Another step has been taken in Kanawha County in enforcing orders in place due to COVID-19.

On Monday afternoon, Kanawha County Circuit Court Chief Judge Charles King entered an order allowing the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department, with the directive of Chief Health Officer Dr. Sherri Young of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, to issue GPS ankle monitoring bracelets to those who refuse to quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.

“Chief Judge King and Sheriff (Mike) Rutherford have taken note that this is a serious issue,” stated Commission President Kent Carper in a release.

“The public must realize that if you have COVID-19, you need to quarantine per the direction of the Chief Health Officer. We do not want to use the GPS ankle bracelets to enforce the quarantines, however, if we must we will. This must be taken seriously.”

The release from the commission and City of Charleston further stated that Young currently has the authority to issue a quarantine order for those who refuse to quarantine.

Kanawha County Circuit Court Chief Judge enters an order for enforcing positive patients follow quarantine guidelines pic.twitter.com/aVZfuAq5QU

— Kanawha County (@kanawhaus) April 6, 2020

Kentucky recently issued an order for GPS ankle bracelets to be utilized as a last resort enforcement for those who refuse to be quarantined.

“We must do all that we can to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin in the release. “We have an obligation to keep the people of Charleston and Kanawha County safe by any means necessary. This method would only be used in cases where folks that test positive are non-compliant. We must proactively have these measures in place in case we have individuals that will not quarantine.”

On Saturday, Kanawha County was added to an executive order by Gov. Jim Justice pressing for more social distancing.

The order put forth included the number of people in groups to five while socially distancing and directs all essential businesses to limit the number of persons entering their establishments and requires employees to work from home to the maximum extent possible.

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