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Princeton nursing home struggling as COVID-19 outbreak continues

PRINCETON, W.Va. — The administrator at the Princeton Health Care Center nursing home in Mercer County said Thursday staff members at the home are tired, scared and sad and some of them have become ill from of COVID-19.

In an update on the home’s website, Administrator Stefanie Compton said the remaining staff is working to care for residents who remain at the facility.

“We all want to be here taking care of our PHCC family members,” Compton wrote. “However, any staff members that are currently fighting Covid are not permitted to work and have been given the directive to stay home and follow the guidelines as outlined by us and health officials. Staff members are not permitted to return to work until they are cleared through our infection control team, per CDC guidelines.”

The state Department of Health and Human Resources reported Thursday that 20 residents at the home have tested positive for COVID-19 along with 24 staff members. Four residents have died.

“We are saddened to report that some of our residents have passed due to this deadly virus,” Compton said. “We are keeping our extended family in our prayers and ask that you do the same. We are also saddened to report that some of our employees have become extremely ill. Our hearts are with them all!”

Another round of testing was scheduled to be completed Thursday. Compton said results should be back within 3-5 days. She said there is a potential for more positive cases. The home plans to make some decisions in connection with re-admittance and getting those test results back. Compton said they are planning additional testing next week.

Compton said PHCC has contracted with a company that specializes in the mitigation of COVID-19.

Ayne Amjad

“Their clinical and operations specialists have experience in dealing with Covid-19 throughout WV and Ohio,” she said. “PHCC has worked collaboratively with them on various projects. We look forward to working with them again as we battle Covid.”

Compton said the National Guard has been at the home this week performing decontamination. She said state Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad has also been at the home. Compton said Amjad is now serving as the interim director of the Mercer County Health Department. A shakeup there last week resulted in two resignations and a retirement.

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26 people face federal charges in drug operation around Wheeling area

WHEELING, W.Va. — Twenty-six people from multiple states were arrested on Thursday after being charged in a 50-count indictment involving a drug conspiracy, according to U.S. Attorney Bill Powell.

Powell, attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, made the announcement on the waterfront in Wheeling that the drug distribution operation sold cocaine base, also known as “crack,” heroin, methamphetamine, including “ice,” and fentanyl in Ohio County and elsewhere from February 2019 to August 2020.

According to his office’s release, in some instances, the sale of the drugs took place near protected locations such as North Park Apartments, Riverview Towers, Luau Manor, Madison Elementary School, Jensen Playground, Belle Isle Playground, Elks Playground, Bridge Park Playground, West Virginia Northern Community College, Wheeling Central Catholic High School, and Wheeling University.

Those arrested on Thursday and charged are:
–    Jennifer Marie Cuffman, also known as “Jennifer Proctor,”  32, of Martins Ferry, Ohio
–    Carlos Leeper, also known as “Los,” 57, of Wheeling. West Virginia
–    Andre Cornell Diggs, also known as “Dre” and “Big Homie,” 38, of Cleveland Heights, Ohio
–    Jalen Deshon Dalton, also known as “J” and “NBA J,” 27, of Cleveland, Ohio
–    Susan Manuel, 57, of Wheeling, West Virginia
–    Quaison Maurice Harris, also known as “Action,” 35, of Willoughby Hills, Ohio
–    Zachary James Parsons, 30, of Wheeling, West Virginia
–    Erick Lamont Stanback Singleton, also known as “Gotti,” 26, of Cleveland, Ohio
–    Matthew Trabert, 37, of Wheeling, West Virginia
–    Willie Johnson, also known as “Ace,” 36, of Cleveland, Ohio
–    Kristen Hoffler, 24, of Wheeling, West Virginia
–    Larry A. Cuffman, also known as “Pops,” 60, of Martins Ferry, Ohio

Fourteen others are charged and still at large. Their names are not being released at this time by Powell’s office.

“We are sending a strong message to all of those from other states who want to sell drugs in our neighborhoods. We will not tolerate the poison and violence. The residents and business owners on Wheeling Island and the City of Wheeling deserve to live, work, and recreate in a safe neighborhood,” said Powell in a released statement.

Special Agent in Charge Todd Scott, of DEA’s Louisville Division said, “The dedicated men and women of the Drug Enforcement Administration are committed to stopping the flow of drugs and violence into West Virginia and bringing to justice those who seek to poison our communities and threaten the safety of our residents.”

“Violence and drug crime know no borders; we will find you, wherever you are, and put you behind bars,” added Scott.

The government is seeking forfeiture of more than $21,000 in cash and multiple firearms associated with the alleged crimes.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shawn M. Adkins and Clayton J. Reid are prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The Ohio Valley Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force, a HIDTA-funded initiative, which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration, West Virginia State Police, Ohio County Sheriff’s Office, and the Wheeling Police Department, investigated. The U.S. Marshal Service, Columbus Police Department Gang Crimes Unit, the Martins Ferry Police Department, and the Bellaire Police Department also assisted.

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From Philippi to the Twin Cities: ABU grad Randy Dobnak dominant for the Twins

(Citynet Statewide Sportsline interview with ABU head coach Matt Yurish)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — In 2017, Randy Dobnak wrapped up a solid four-year career at Alderson Broaddus University in Philippi. He posted a 26-12 record with an ERA of 2.61 and 20 complete games in 43 starts.

Those numbers however did not yield a call on draft day or a free agent contract with an MLB-affiliated team. His first professional baseball stint came with the Utica Unicorns in upstate New York and the United Shore Professional Baseball League.

Two years later, Dobnak pitched in nine games and made five starts for the 2019 AL Central-champion Minnesota Twins.

“It has been a lot of fun to keep up with him as he moved on from our program. At every turn he just took off and his success hasn’t stopped yet,” said ABU head baseball coach and former WVU pitcher Matt Yurish.

“As his career developed, we all thought he was a pro, and we all hoped he would get a shot. Now with what he is currently doing right now, I would be lying if I said a wasn’t a little surprised especially how fast it all happened. Especially by the end of his career, his velocity was up and he was a pretty dominant guy at our level. We thought he had a chance to at least go on and play and get a shot at pro ball. The rest of it has kind of been like a movie.”

Dobnak’s accelerated rise through the Twins’ minor-league system began in late-2017 with their Appalachian League affiliate in Elizabethton, Tennessee. After quick stops in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Fort Myers, Fla, Pensacola, Fla. and Rochester, N.Y., Dobnak compiled a minor league record of 24-9 with an ERA of 2.57. He was promoted to the Twins last summer and settled into their starting rotation with a 1.59 ERA in 9 games.

“It wasn’t by accident. He put a lot of hard work, time and effort in. He developed a better breaking ball and a little bit of a splitter changeup that he used when he was with us and that kind of set him apart. He came in as a kid that was 86-88 (mph). The last start he made for us, I don’t think he threw a pitch below 90. That was the jump that got him on people’s radar.”

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Randy Dobnak (68) throws to the Cleveland Indians in the first inning at Target Field. (Photo by: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports)

On Wednesday, the South Park, Pa. native tossed six shutout innings while allowing just three hits in a 5-2 win over the Pirates at PNC Park. In 15 innings of work this season, he owns the second-best ERA in the American League at 0.60. In 43 innings at the big league level, he has walked just 9 batters.

“Ever since he was a freshman, this is something he has always had, is that he just hates to walk people. It really bothers him. I think the fact that he forces action and really keeps the game going at a fast pace, I think that really helps him.”

Sporting quality facial hair and spectacles, Yurish says the former Uber driver has always been a light-hearted presence in the dugout.

“He kept it entertaining when he was with us and that really hasn’t changed. The facial hair is new. That wasn’t a thing forever. He has found a niche there.

“I don’t think the moment is ever going to get too big for him. That’s another thing that is really, really helping him right now. His mentality and his demeanor are big pluses for him.”

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Union leaders — with Justice’s opponent — blast governor over school reopening guidance

Leaders of two unions for West Virginia educators appeared with the Democratic candidate for governor and bashed school reopening plans outlined by Gov. Jim Justice as confusing and inadequate.

Fred Albert

“If the governor has no clearer direction and guidance on the school reentry process at this point, we do not believe any counties will be safely prepared to begin full-time, in-person school by Sept. 8,” said Fred Albert, president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia.

Early this week, Justice described a Wednesday announcement about reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic, generating intense public interest.

The governor’s overview wound up introducing a color-coded map to designate whether it’s safe for districts to keep schools open, a goal of installing 1,000 wifi hotspots for students and a discussion of teachers having their own choice about working in-school or virtually.

A day later, the leaders of AFT-West Virginia and the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association appeared with gubernatorial candidate Ben Salango and described Justice’s outline as half-baked.

For example, no one knows yet how local conditions will be assessed for the maps.

Albert said parents, students and teachers were on edge, awaiting the Republican governor’s remarks.

“They don’t need two days of buildup and anxiety about an announcement that provided no substantial new information on the process of reopening our schools,” Albert said.

“They were left with more questions and confusion than they were prior to the governor’s remarks.”

With a Sept. 8 target start date rapidly approaching, Albert said plans are still not adequate.

“We recognize the task of reopening our schools is a daunting one, and there are hundreds of variables related to it. But we also need concrete, detailed information so employees and families can plan and make decisions accordingly,” Albert said.

“West Virginians need facts, not empty promises.”

Joe White

Joe White, president of the school service personnel union, focused on aspects of a plan to establish 1,000 wifi hotspots at schools, colleges and libraries.

Justice on Wednesday suggested school buses could transport students to the wireless access points. White said there are not enough bus drivers for school systems in the first place.

“The governor also stated that the buses would provide transportation of students to the wifi spots, as well as to ball practice and band practice,” White said.

“This means our bus operators will be driving students to school, remote learners to hotspots, delivering food and now athletes to practice.”

White concluded, “This is just one example of poorly prepared plans. We need a leader. I repeat. We. Need. A leader.”

Ben Salango

Salango, a Kanawha County Commissioner, described Justice as unprepared with his latest guidance.

“Our governor is now shooting from the hip. He’s been shooting from the hip through this entire pandemic. Yesterday’s press conference was an example,” he said. “The governor has had all summer to work on this plan.”

Justice’s campaign responded by saying he is committed to keeping students and teachers safe, ensuring a world-class education, and empowering local school leaders to make re-opening decisions that are best for their communities based on scientific metrics.

“It’s sad to see Ben Salango force our teachers and school service personnel to engage in partisan politics when so many West Virginians are focused on keeping their families safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Clay Sutton, campaign communications director for Justice.

Teachers union leaders around the state focused on the governor’s remarks about the reopening of schools.

Ross Higgins, the president of Marion County’s chapter of the West Virginia Education Association, seemed relieved that the governor didn’t wipe out plans that have been developed locally.

“I thought perhaps the governor was going to inform us we were going remote or distance learning. But that was not the case,” Higgins said on “Talk of the Town” on WAJR Radio.

Higgins added, “I’m confident that the plan the Marion County school system has in place, we can go forward.”

Listen to “Dave & Sarah | August 6, 2020” on Spreaker.

Jenny Craig, president of the Ohio County Education Association, said people were confused by the governor’s presentation of guidelines that still lacked answers.

“It was really bizarre. I don’t really have another word to articulate where to start,” Craig said on “The Watchdog Morning Show” with host Howard Monroe. “We were left with more questions than we had prior to the press conference.”

Among the gaps, she said, were specifics about numbers communities would need to be achieve for in-school activities to be considered safe. She also wanted more detail about how safety measures would be enforced.

“None of that happened,” Craig said.

“We did talk about ‘net and broadband. That’s one of the things that should have been in the works a long time ago. Really, rather than that, he said nothing.”

Ohio County Education Association president @jenyfrmtheblok1 offered her reaction to Governor Justice proposals for opening of school as well as some other issues affecting educators as we look at how to return to classes. #WatchdogMorningShow https://t.co/H5aa6linBX

— Howard Monroe (@radiomonroe) August 6, 2020

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Schools superintendents say latest state guidelines will mesh with ongoing reopening plans

Superintendents of West Virginia’s county school systems say newly-described state guidelines mesh with what they’ve already been working toward.

But the superintendent of Monongalia County Schools did say it seems like the latest state guidance came together without much hint of what they would be.

Gov. Jim Justice released what his administration called a reopening plan on Wednesday. It included a color-coded map to designate whether it’s safe for districts to keep schools open, a goal of installing 1,000 wifi hotspots for students and a discussion of teachers having their own choice about working in-school or virtually that had to be refined.

“I didn’t have no idea. I don’t think any of the 55 county superintendents did,” said Monongalia County Superintendent Eddie Campbell today on “Talk of the Town” on WAJR Radio.

“We had a teams meeting with Superintendent Burch earlier, and we don’t think that he had really any idea what was going to be said. So I think we were all waiting with baited breath, very anxiously, to see what his announcement was. I think for the most part, it was a reiteration of things we’ve been working on since the announcement came that we were going to start school on Sept. 8.”

So, Campbell said, the latest guidance doesn’t really change the direction for counties.

“We’re prepared with what was laid out,” Campbell said. “I was aware we were looking — and we’ve been aware for several weeks now — that they were looking at a type of a dashboard that was going to be displayed on a county-by-county basis that we would all be really adhering to as far as our ability to be open and stay open that really revolved around data around active cases in our counties.

“So I don’t think that changes anything as we move forward.”

Listen to “Dave & Sarah | August 6, 2020” on Spreaker.

Other counties reacted similarly to the guidance about a very uncertain start to the school year.

Cabell County Superintendent Ryan Saxe said a color-coded system was already in the works there.

“I’m glad there’s a metric that all stakeholders can see to determine when it’s safe to reenter our buildings,” Saxe said on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”

But he said that will require some modifications by the county. “I definitely think we will be adapting our system to align with what the state is developing,” Saxe said.

Saxe said the school system is preparing by hiring additional health personnel for the school system and obtaining personal protective equipment, including plastic shields for desks.

He said the school system will try to provide as much certainty as possible while also urging parents to be ready with their own contingency plans if the situation requires a shutdown.

“I think we’re going to try to keep things as normal as possible as the safety dictates,” Saxe said.

“It brings a unique opportunity for us to see how we can evolve with the times. Unfortunately the covid-19 situation is what’s bringing about that evolution.”

.@CabellSuperSaxe speaks with @HoppyKercheval about schools reopening and measures taken for Cabell County. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/5gteOa1Opg

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) August 6, 2020

Raleigh County Schools Superintendent David Price agreed that superintendents heard about the governor’s most recent guidelines at the same moment the general public did.

“We heard what everybody else heard yesterday,” Price said. “As that press conference was going on, superintendents were getting the information just as everyone else was getting it. So we’re waiting to see some of that.”

He said the governor’s envisioned county-by-county, color-coded maps of coronavirus conditions will help communities to make data-based decisions.

“We know that’ll be a great asset for us to make our decisions. I’m glad they’re doing that. Wish we’d have had it earlier, but we’ll have it hopefully this week or early next week,” Price said on “Radio Roundtable” on WJLS Radio.

Raleigh County’s hybrid plan calls for starting with shifts of two days in school and three days of home learning. The longer-term goal is to return to classrooms five days a week.

“We’ll play that by ear,” Price said. “I think we’ll get there sooner than later. But we’re gonna take this slow and steady, those first four weeks, and evaluate as we go along.”

Starting schools during a pandemic carries undeniable uncertainties, Price said.

“People keep saying it’s a very fluid situation. It is very fluid, and it changes day to day,” he said. “We feel like we have a very solid plan that will provide us a foundation to get back to school how we need to safely and be responsible doing it, taking care of our students and our staff in a responsible way.”

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West Virginia Power to host Negro Leagues celebration event

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues will be celebrated and remembered in a special way Friday in Charleston.

The West Virginia Power, in partnership with the Josh Gibson Foundation and AARP-West Virginia, will be the first team across professional baseball in 2020 to host a special exhibit honoring the Negro Leagues centennial celebration.

The exhibit is scheduled to run from noon to 6 p.m. on Friday, under the third-base concourse canopy at Appalachian Power Park.

“The Power is the one and the only team that kept a commitment to celebrate the centennial and also celebrate it with everything that is going on with the Black Lives Matter movement,” Sean Gibson, the Executive Director of the Josh Gibson Foundation told MetroNews affiliate 580-WCHS.

Gibson’s great-grandfather Josh Gibson was a star in the Negro Leagues and often considered the “Babe Ruth of the Negro Leagues” as a Baseball Hall of Famer and record-setting slugger for the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords.

Josh Gibson plaque

Gibson said the exhibit features artifacts, photos, uniforms, and other memorabilia from his playing days with those teams and Veracruz of the Mexican League, along with visual displays and insights about the Negro Leagues and professional baseball during that era.

He also recommended for visitors to look into the history of Rube Foster, the founder of the Negro Leagues.

“Negro Leagues was founded February 13, 1920, and Rube Foster was the mastermind behind the title ‘If we can’t play with them, we will play against them,’ and he created his own league,” Gibson said.

The event is free and open to the public, but visitors must wear face coverings and adhere to proper social distancing requirements due to COVID-19.

The Power said that due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, health and safety rules will be strictly enforced so people can enjoy this unique opportunity safely individually or in small groups of family members and/or friends.

“We had arranged for this display to be a central part of our African American Heritage Night. Even though the pandemic forced the cancellation of the game and promotion, we believe this showcase of baseball’s history and history-making players is vital for us to host at our facility so we can honor the vibrant African American community in Charleston,” said Power Managing Partner Tim Wilcox in a statement.

Gibson said he appreciates the Power bringing to light the Negro Leagues and celebrating all the history that comes with it. He believes the current Black Lives Matter movement shown throughout baseball, including the Major Leagues, is something to be proud of.

“With everything that is going on, the one thing that I like is that it is not just the African-American players in this movement but it’s a lot of the white players and owners,” Gibson told 580-WCHS.

Reservations are recommended if you want to visit the exhibit before 2 p.m. or after 4 p.m. People and small groups without reservations will be admitted as space permits, in keeping with federal, state and local health and safety guidelines.

.@JoshGibson_1911, great grandson of Josh Gibson, talks with @HoppyKercheval about how the WV Power, in partnership with the Josh Gibson Foundation and AARP, are hosting a special exhibit honoring the Negro Leagues for the Centennial Celebration. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/FWH15F6jpy

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) August 6, 2020

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West Virginia now has 8th lowest ‘rate of spread’ number for COVID-19

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state added 118 positive cases of COVID-19 to its official count Thursday. There have been 7,277 cases since the pandemic began.

Active cases rose by just six Thursday and now stand at 1,823. The state said 112 other residents have recovered from the virus in the past day bringing that number to 5,330.

The state’s daily positive test rate is at 2.42 percent and the rate of spread number continued to fall at .92 which is the eighth lowest in the country.

The DHHR said hospitalizations have reached their highest point yet at 123 with 47 patients in ICU and 11 on ventilators. Deaths remained at 124 in Thursday’s report.

.@WV_DHHR reports as of 10:00 a.m., on August 6, 2020, there have been 307,255 total confirmatory laboratory results received for #COVID19, with 7,277 total cases and 124 deaths. #SaferAtHomeWVhttps://t.co/eBSIlkojps pic.twitter.com/FV8K4GB0WK

— WV DHHR (@WV_DHHR) August 6, 2020

Overall confirmed cases per county include:

(Case confirmed by lab test/Probable case): Barbour (29/0), Berkeley (647/28), Boone (95/0), Braxton (8/0), Brooke (60/1), Cabell (358/9), Calhoun (6/0), Clay (17/1), Doddridge (5/0), Fayette (137/0), Gilmer (16/0), Grant (96/1), Greenbrier (88/0), Hampshire (76/0), Hancock (103/4), Hardy (56/1), Harrison (206/1), Jackson (160/0), Jefferson (288/6), Kanawha (863/13), Lewis (27/1), Lincoln (79/0), Logan (176/0), Marion (175/4), Marshall (125/3), Mason (53/0), McDowell (48/1), Mercer (174/0), Mineral (114/2), Mingo (154/2), Monongalia (913/16), Monroe (18/1), Morgan (25/1), Nicholas (34/1), Ohio (262/3), Pendleton (57/1), Pleasants (9/1), Pocahontas (40/1), Preston (101/22), Putnam (177/1), Raleigh (203/7), Randolph (203/3), Ritchie (3/0), Roane (14/0), Summers (7/0), Taylor (55/1), Tucker (11/0), Tyler (13/0), Upshur (36/3), Wayne (194/2), Webster (4/0), Wetzel (40/0), Wirt (6/0), Wood (230/12), Wyoming (29/0).

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Parkways members praise longtime executive director ahead of retirement

CHARLESTON, W.Va. –Members of the state Parkways Authority praised the soon-to-be retired longtime executive director Greg Barr during the authority’s meeting Thursday that originated in Charleston.

Troy Giatras

“I commend you for your long and faithful service to the state and obviously to the Parkways Authority,” Authority member Troy Giatras said. “I want to thank you for your insight and the help you’ve provided to me.”

Barr has been with the Parkways Authority, the agency that operates the West Virginia Turnpike, since 1989. He became executive director in late 2002 after spending several months as interim director. Barr was quick to praise Parkways staff.

“There are great directors at the Turnpike and without their help this job would be next to impossible and that makes it a lot easier when you have a lot of senior people with a lot of knowledge,” Barr said.

Greg Barr

“He’s the most dedicated public servant I’ve ever worked with,” longtime Parkways General Counsel Dave Abrams told MetroNews about Barr.

“Greg you’ve been a dear friend and great general manager,” Authority member Doug Epling said.

Barr is being replaced Raleigh County Commission County Administrator Jeff Miller who listened in during Thursday’s meeting.

“I’ve not had a chance to meet him yet but I’m looking forward to it,” Barr said. “We’ll welcome him Monday morning and get down to business with him,” Barr said.

Jeff Miller

Parkways Authority Chair Bray Cary reminded members that Barr will remain on board for about six weeks to transition with Miller. Carey said Gov. Jim Justice is thankful Barr stayed on board after wanting to retire last year.

“He tried to leave a year ago and he stayed. The state will always be grateful for that,” Cary said.

Miller was appointed by Justice last week.

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Justice says school preparations are meant to provide in-class or virtual options for families

Gov. Jim Justice says new guidelines about West Virginia’s return to school are meant to provide more options for families.

Governor Justice

“It’s centered around kind of a parents’ choice deal. We understand people are very concerned, and rightfully so,” Justice said today on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”

Counties are working toward a mid-August deadline allowing either in-classroom options or virtual learning. If the spread of coronavirus necessitates, some school systems could have to transition to full distance learning.

“That’s what it’s all about with parents having a real choice.”

.@WVGovernor Jim Justice joins @HoppyKercheval to discuss the reopening plans for schools in West Virginia. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/xYmK0XEJWx

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) August 6, 2020

Justice on Wednesday announced additional aspects of the state’s school guidance, including a color-coded map that would depict the spread of covid-19 and whether conditions are adequate for in-school instruction.

The governor said state leaders are working on a metric to prompt changes among the red, orange, yellow and green status conditions but are not ready yet.

“If we get real hotspots breaking out, we’re going to have to go to 100 percent virtual learning in those counties,” Justice said.

Justice also described the rollout of 1,000 wifi hotspots in schools, colleges and libraries across the state. The hotspots are meant to increase internet access for students who are learning outside the classroom.

Installing those wifi hotspots will require pushing, the governor said, but he expressed confidence that it will be done in time for the start of school.

“In this situation, I don’t just shoot in the dark. Many, many experts have been vetted and have come to me and said we can do it,” he said.

He added, “Why haven’t we done this in the past?”

Finally, although the governor indicated during a Wednesday briefing that teachers might be able to opt for virtual instruction, state leaders are now clarifying that option is meant for educators who can demonstrate specific health concerns through a medical professional.

Clayton Burch

“I think we’re all concerned about going back to school, and I don’t think the governor’s intent was to say we all get to choose whether we go to work,” said state schools Superintendent Clayton Burch, also speaking today on “Talkline.”

But Burch says there will be some latitude, particularly with teachers with health concerns: “We need to be flexible. We need to work with that population.”

State School Superintendent Clayton Burch joins @HoppyKercheval with more specifics on reopening for schools. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/VGfgMOHPlf

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) August 6, 2020

President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump, who has been vocal in his desire to open schools this fall, said on “Fox and Friends” this week that older teachers who are vulnerable to the coronavirus should not return to schools that reopen in the fall

“If a teacher’s in a certain age group, I think they shouldn’t be going in and probably they’ll have to wait until the thing goes by,” Trump said.

Burch said counties, as well as individual families, need to be prepared with contingency plans if conditions aren’t right for in-school options.

The maps should provide a helpful overview of how the spread of virus might affect the school year, he said.

“It’ll allow those counties to monitor how safe it is in their communities,” he said.

For example, if a county moves off green, “We want to be very transparent that if you move up to yellow, we’re starting to see a few cases, we may have to go to more action.”

Orange would signal danger. And red would call a halt.

Burch said school system leaders want to avoid a yo-yo effect of bouncing between conditions to open, close, open, close.

“Our recommendation is when you reach a stage of red and you have to close schools it may be for a minimum of a certain number of weeks,” he said.

Both Justice and Burch expressed optimism that the school year will be able to go on, but they also indicated some realism about changing conditions.

“I’m going to be as optimistic as the governor,” Burch said.

But, “If those numbers reach a certain level, we’ve got to pivot.”

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MetroNews This Morning 8-6-20

School operations will be dictated by a color-coding system unveiled Wednesday by Governor Justice and in the process of being refined to reflect daily Covid 19 trends in local areas. Covid 19 hospitalizations remain steady and the R-T value for West Virginia remains below zero, but there are growing case numbers in several W.Va. elder care facilities. Another attempt to remove Stonewall Jackson from the Harrison County Courthouse Square fails and Martinsburg’s first female mayor is on the job. In Sports, a rough night for the Pirates courtesy of a former pitcher for A-B. Those stories and more in today’s MetroNews This Morning podcast.

Listen to “MetroNews This Morning 8-6-20” on Spreaker.

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