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DHHR adds 61 COVID-19 cases to state total

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Department of Health and Human Resources added 61 positive COVID-19 cases and one death to the state’s numbers Saturday.

The DHHR said active cases are currently at 693 with recovered cases at 2,418. The agency confirmed the state’s 94th death Saturday, an 89-year-old woman from Greenbrier County.

“On this Independence Day, it is with great sadness that we announce the passing of another West Virginian,” state DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch said.

The state is now reporting a cumulative test rate of 1.75 percent and a daily rate of 2.34 percent. Currently hospitalizations are at 35, the highest number of patients since 38 were in the hospital on June 12. Fifteen patients in ICU is the highest since 22 were in ICU on May 4.

.@WV_DHHR reports as of 5:00 p.m., on July 4, 2020, there have been 183,401 total confirmatory laboratory results received for #COVID19, with 3,205 total cases and 94 deaths. #SaferAtHomeWVhttps://t.co/45u2GFiPwD pic.twitter.com/jbfl6Uba28

— WV DHHR (@WV_DHHR) July 4, 2020

The Kanawha County Commission reported Saturday one of its workers recently tested positive for COVID-19. Other county workers who’ve had contact with the employee are being tested and so far there are no additional cases. Those with close contact will self-quarantine for 14 days.

“The safety of our employees and the public is a priority.  We felt it was important to expedite testing of our employees and would like to thank the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority and CAMC for making this happen.  Our thoughts are with our employee who tested positive,” Commission President Kent Carper said.

Confirmed cases since the pandemic began both recovered and active:

(Case confirmed by lab test/Probable case): Barbour (15/0), Berkeley (460/18), Boone (23/0), Braxton (3/0), Brooke (9/1), Cabell (147/6), Calhoun (2/0), Clay (10/0), Fayette (67/0), Gilmer (13/0), Grant (15/1), Greenbrier (63/0), Hampshire (42/0), Hancock (23/3), Hardy (44/1), Harrison (70/0), Jackson (143/0), Jefferson (236/5), Kanawha (327/9), Lewis (19/1), Lincoln (8/0), Logan (26/0), Marion (67/3), Marshall (41/1), Mason (20/0), McDowell (6/0), Mercer (48/0), Mineral (55/2), Mingo (20/3), Monongalia (216/14), Monroe (14/1), Morgan (19/1), Nicholas (13/1), Ohio (104/1), Pendleton (12/1), Pleasants (4/1), Pocahontas (30/1), Preston (70/16), Putnam (63/1), Raleigh (55/1), Randolph (167/2), Ritchie (2/0), Roane (11/0), Summers (2/0), Taylor (17/1), Tucker (6/0), Tyler (4/0), Upshur (20/1), Wayne (114/1), Wetzel (12/0), Wirt (4/0), Wood (111/8), Wyoming (7/0).

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Ripley celebrates Independence Day the social distancing way

RIPLEY, W.Va. — Mayor Carolyn Rader let out a sigh of relief Saturday afternoon on Facebook after her town’s annual 4th of July parade.

“Thank you RIPLEY. WE DID IT. GREAT PEOPLE IN THIS CITY !!!!!”

Ripley did what other cities and towns and West Virginia have decided not to do because of the pandemic–and that is continue on with an annual celebration while following various guidelines.

Saturday’s parade was smaller than usual but there was still plenty enthusiasm. Those choosing to watch the parade kept their distance. There were markers six feet apart along the parade route.

The normal six-day celebration was cut to two this year because of the pandemic. Friday night started it all off with a couple of drive-in concerts. Residents watched the bands from inside their vehicles or in lawn chairs just outside.

Billed as “America’s Largest Small Town Independence Day Celebration,” Ripley was marking its 150th celebration Saturday. Mayor Rader told MetroNews earlier this week once Gov. Jim Justice announced that fairs and festivals could start at the beginning of July nothing was going to hold them back.

“It’s going to be so different and I just keep saying over and over, ‘Oh my gosh, please be patient with us,’ because we’ve never done this before,” Rader said heading into the celebration.

Saturday’s activities were scheduled to end with a couple more concerts and fireworks.

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Herd That chasing million dollar prize at TBT

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For the second time in the run up to The Basketball Tournament, the Marshall alumni team Herd That is preparing for a different opponent than they were originally scheduled to face.

Herd That was initially drawn against Best Virginia before the WVU alumni team withdrew after multiple positive COVID-19 tests. On Friday, Playing for Jimmy V was removed from the tournament after a positive test while the team was in the ‘bubble’ in Columbus, Ohio. On Sunday, Herd That will face the Peoria All-Stars. They were a standby team for the 24-team tournament.

A mix of five Marshall alumni and five other players are listed on the Herd That roster. Ot Elmore is the team’s general manager and will play guard as well.

“I don’t play at the high level that I used to,” Elmore said. “364 days a year, I work a regular job and live a regular life. So it is nice to be out there one day a year and play basketball and relive the glory days.”

Ot’s brother Jon is Marshall’s all-time leading scorer and was instrumental in bringing in many of the new pieces to the roster.

“My back is kind of hurting,” Jon Elmore said. “I feel like I have done more than most. But it has been good fun. We have all collaborated. Several of us got together and talked about the way we wanted to go this year. It was a big-time team effort.”

Many of the new players on the Herd That roster are frontcourt players, giving the team some much-needed bulk to help out Ryan Taylor down low.

“Ryan Taylor has been holding it down for us,” said guard Stevie Browning. “He is not the biggest guy in the world but he is skilled and knows how to use his body. But he is just one guy. We went out and brought other pieces in, bigs that are very talented.”

“They can fit in well in the Marshall system,” Ot Elmore said. “Zach Smith (Texas Tech) is a high-flyer. You can expect a lot of alley-oops to him. Ryan Luther (Arizona/Pittsburgh) shoots the three-ball extremely well. He will fit in perfect, getting up and down and letting it fly.

“Marshall fans should be very familiar with Jacorey Williams (Middle Tennessee) and Chris Cokley (UAB). They were nightmares for us to deal with in Conference USA.”

“We played against some of the new pieces that we brought in in conference play twice a year for three or four years,” Taylor said. “When they first came on, the first question they asked is ‘Are you going to play like how you did at Marshall’? Everybody wants to play like that.”

Even with an added post presence, Herd That will still play the Dan D’Antoni style of uptempo basketball.

“It is different,” said guard Rondale Watson. “It is something you don’t see everyday. You can tell by the coach we learned from. He is different in the way he does things. We move fast. We spread the floor. We shoot a lot of 3’s.”

“When we were at the Greenbrier for our first practice down there, it surprised everybody when he showed up,” Ot Elmore said. “He came in and watched practice and talked to everybody. We all love coach Danny. He is a great guy.”

Herd That will play in the first of four TBT games on day two of the tournament Sunday at 2 p.m. ESPN has the broadcast. A million dollar winner-take-all prize awaits the tournament champion.

“We played with our brothers and our best friends and we added some pieces,” Browning said. “I like our chances.”

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Arrest made in Charleston Independence Day murder

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kanawha County woman was charged with murder for the alleged stabbing death of a man in the Capital City early on Independence Day.

Rashieda Tyree

Charleston Police said Duane Troy Letlow, 54, of Charleston died after being stabbed in the chest with a knife around 1:30 a.m. Saturday at the Living AIDS Memorial Garden located on Charleston’s Washington Street East.

Rashieda Tyree, 30, of Dunbar, was arrested on a count of first-degree murder.

Investigators claimed Tyree stabbed Letlow one time during an argument.

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2nd COVID-19 death reported in Greenbrier County

GREENBRIER COUNTY, W.Va. — Health officials in Greenbrier County have confirmed a second death in the county from COVID-19.

The Greenbrier County Health Department posted the following on the department’s Facebook page late Friday:

“It is with great regret that we announce our second COVID-19 death. We lost an 89-year-old female who was hospitalized due to complications of the virus. We offer our sincere condolences to her family.”

Earlier Friday, local officials were reporting 69 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Greenbrier County and three suspected cases. Thirty of those cases were described as active with five people hospitalized.

Confirmation of the first COVID-19 in Greenbrier County came back on June 27.

That person was an 82-year-old man who health officials said died after “a prolonged hospitalization” because of the virus.

As of Saturday morning, the second death in Greenbrier County was not yet included in data from the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

Since March, DHHR had recorded 93 COVID-19 deaths statewide without the latest Greenbrier County death.

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Footbridge at Harpers Ferry reopens after damage caused in train derailment

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. — The popular footbridge at Harpers Ferry reopened Friday afternoon much to the delight of Harpers Ferry Mayor Wayne Bishop.

The train derailment took place last December.

“The people are using it and what a great outlet for all of the visitors to cross the river again,” Bishop told MetroNews.

The footbridge, which crosses the Potomac River at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, sustained significant damage during a CSX train derailment last December on the nearby railroad bridge.

The footbridge, known as the Goodloe Byron Memorial Footbridge, connects hikers and bikers to popular spots like Maryland Heights, the Appalachian Trail and the C&O Canal.

Bishop said the bridge is a big financial driver for his community.

“Let’s not forget about the people on the Maryland side who have been waiting for this day to cross over into Harpers Ferry to enjoy Harpers Ferry,” Bishop said.

A contractor for CSX began working on the bridge in earnest in May. CSX has been working closely with the Park Service on the project.

“We thank the Park Service and CSX, we’ve all been meeting and waiting for this day and now it’s here,” Bishop said.

An investigative report released from the Federal Railroad Administration last week said engineer error caused the Dec. 21, 2019 seven-car derailment. The engineer made a sudden move with the train with the brakes still applied, the report said.

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DHHR reports 49 new COVID-19 cases in latest update

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) reported 49 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday evening.

The DHHR said there are 3,126 total cases of the coronavirus up from 3,077 cases in its Friday morning update.

There have been 180,597 total confirmatory laboratory results received for COVID-19 with a cumulative percent positive of 1.73 percent.

The daily percent positive sits at 2.98 percent.

There remain 93 deaths associated with COVID-19 in West Virginia.

VIEW: Full COVID-19 numbers

Cases per county (Case confirmed by lab test/Probable case): Barbour (15/0), Berkeley (450/18), Boone (23/0), Braxton (3/0), Brooke (8/1), Cabell (143/6), Calhoun (2/0), Clay (10/0), Fayette (67/0), Gilmer (13/0), Grant (15/1), Greenbrier (60/0), Hampshire (42/0), Hancock (23/3), Hardy (44/1), Harrison (69/0), Jackson (143/0), Jefferson (233/5), Kanawha (324/9), Lewis (19/1), Lincoln (8/0), Logan (26/0), Marion (63/3), Marshall (41/1), Mason (19/0), McDowell (6/0), Mercer (45/0), Mineral (55/2), Mingo (19/3), Monongalia (193/14), Monroe (13/1), Morgan (19/1), Nicholas (12/1), Ohio (102/1), Pendleton (12/1), Pleasants (4/1), Pocahontas (28/1), Preston (68/16), Putnam (60/1), Raleigh (55/1), Randolph (166/1), Ritchie (2/0), Roane (11/0), Summers (2/0), Taylor (16/1), Tucker (6/0), Tyler (4/0), Upshur (20/1), Wayne (114/1), Wetzel (12/0), Wirt (4/0), Wood (103/8), Wyoming (7/0).

.@WV_DHHR reports as of 5:00 p.m., on July 3, 2020, there have been 180,597 total confirmatory laboratory results received for #COVID19, with 3,126 total cases and 93 deaths. #SaferAtHomeWVhttps://t.co/F24epWOrnS pic.twitter.com/bfW2TbO4O3

— WV DHHR (@WV_DHHR) July 3, 2020

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Ohio County employees traveling out of town must follow new rules

WHEELING, W.Va. — Employees of Ohio County or workers for a court entity in the City-County Building in Wheeling have a temporary set of rules to follow as COVID-19 cases in West Virginia are on the rise.

According to WTRF-TV in Wheeling, employees were mailed the set of rules for anyone going on vacation or going anywhere 100 miles or more from the City-County Building.

It includes that any employee going on vacation or leaving the area must stay home for 48 hours after they return.

According to officials, employees must be tested for the virus upon arrival back into town. Any person to test positive must stay home and self-quarantine for two weeks.

Employees may opt-out of testing for the virus when returning from out of town but they must notify the Ohio County Health Department and self-quarantine for two weeks.

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Latest ChalleNGe Academy graduates had to clear pandemic-related hurdles

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The next Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy is scheduled to begin later this month.

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

Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard said academy Class 54, which recently graduated, won’t soon be forgotten for the hurdles cadets had to clear because of the pandemic.

“Eighty cadets graduated from the program. We have 33 that have currently passed all of the requirements for their high school diploma,” Hoyer said. “Despite having every excuse to quit the program or not put forth the effort to finish, these cadets met the challenge head on and have showcased their abilities to handle any situation that comes their way. I have no doubt they will each go on to do wonderful things that contribute to the success of the State of West Virginia.”

Members of the class were sent home from Camp Dawson in March because of the pandemic. ChalleNGe Academy staff then worked with the class members virtually to help advance toward graduation.

Hoyer said the majority of the cadets will continue into the next academy class that starts later this month or go into the Guard’s Jobs Challenge Initiative.

Plans remain in the works for a new ChalleNGe Academy to be conducted on the former WVU Tech campus in Montgomery.

“In the near future the governor will be announcing updates on our Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy south program which is moving along exceptionally well despite the pandemic,” Hoyer said.

The ChalleNGe Academy is a training and mentor program for at-risk youth. There have been nearly 4,800 cadets graduate from the program since its inception in 1993.

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Holiday weekend will be hot, clear for West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It’s going to be a hot holiday weekend for most parts of West Virginia with very little precipitation in the forecast.

The 4th of July weekend sets up for multiple days in a row with temperatures nearing the mid-90s.

“Thanks to a high-pressure system, there is plenty of sunshine and hot temperatures during the afternoon hours and in multi-nights,” Andy Roche, National Weather Service Meteorologist told MetroNews.

Roche added there is very little chance of rain around the state but if it occurs, would be Sunday afternoon. He said the best chance of rain in the state would be over the mountains and a few showers moving into the eastern portion.

The clear skies will be a good thing for the 4th of July festivities, according to Roche.

“For the celebrations for the 4th of July it will be mostly clear skies so people will be able to enjoy fireworks displays,” he said.

In the Kanawha Valley, northern panhandle, eastern panhandle, other parts of West Virginia temperatures will remain well into the 90s heading into mid-July. Roche said the highest elevations will see temperatures in the high 80s.

He warned anyone out in the sun for the holiday weekend and any time when it’s in the 90s, to use the proper precautions.

“People have to make sure they take plenty of fluids if they are outside in the hot temperatures. Use sunscreen as well and stay in the shade as much as possible,” he said.

When it’s hot, wear lightweight, loose-fitting and light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight. Hats are a good idea to protect your face and scalp if you’ll be spending time in the sunshine, and don’t forget to apply sunscreen. #WVHeatSafety https://t.co/rCoouuOrfI pic.twitter.com/Movljh0LL4

— WV Emergency Management (@WVEMD) July 3, 2020

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