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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Governor Jim Justice has moved the primary election from May 12 to June 9 by executive order due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mon County Clerk Carye Blaney says absentee ballot applications will be mailed to voters by the second week of April.
“I think there is some confusion among the voters because they hear so many different things,”Blaney said,”They are expecting just to receive a ballot in the mail and that is not what is occurring”
Blaney says there was intense interest in absentee voting even before the delay was announced, now they expect even more.
“We have already received applications for 550 ballots,”Blaney said,’And we expect that to increase in numbers.”
Blaney says will make sure every voter in the county has the opportunity to vote by absentee ballot or in person.
“The reason why there is an application process is because before we ever mail a ballot to a voter, our office has verified they are duly qualified voter and entitled to receive that ballot,”Blaney said,”This is not a vote by mail process.”
Blaney says this election has tested her staff like no other.
“We have never had such an enormous amount of absentee ballots, but we will handle them in the same fashion that we have handled all of our other absentee ballots. That process isn’t changing,”Blaney said,”The only thing is, it may delay us on election night.”
Balney says as in years past early voting and absentee ballot totals will be released prior to the time the polls close on election day.
Becasue of the change the following deadlines are changing:
- May 20 Last day to register or update your voter registration
- The early voting period will be from May 27 to June 6
- The last day to request an absentee ballot is June 3
- Absentee ballots must be postmarked by midnight June 9
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Local tourism is working to adapt to an unexpected national health crisis.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak that has impacted business across West Virginia, the Morgantown Conventions and Visitors Bureau created an outlet through their website which allows for local business that are still open to let residents know.
“A Mountaineer Country Community Resource, a guide during the coronavirus,” explains Morgantown CVB President & CEO Susan Riddle.
Despite several limitations and closures, Riddle stated that there are several local businesses that are reaching out to local residents. Rather they be a restaurant out in Star City or a business in Downtown Morgantown that might be affected by the stay-at-home order implemented by Governor Jim Justice as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, everyone is having a chance to spread their word.
“And it’s everything on local information, supporting your community, to-go dining, different services, actually shopping that is still available,” said Riddle on WAJR’s talk of the Town. “As far as different, whether it be major chains, grocery stores, those kinds of things,” she said.
Not only are business reaching out to residents to encourage economic activity, but also to reach out in charity. While the Morgantown CVB continues to encourage residents to buy from local restaurants and stores, charitable works across the North-Central region are also being promoted. This includes efforts made by various local boards of education and other business who have volutneered time and resources.
“Some of the stuff that’s been out there that people have been stepping up and providing, whether it be lunches for kids, while they’re unexpectedly at home, or first responders, supplies, it makes you proud to be a Mountaineer,” said Riddle.
While encouraging social distancing, the tourism industry in particular is expected to have a long road to recovery as states slowly work to deal with the COVID-19 at their own pace. In response, the Morgantown CVB has offered virtual tours of local parks and landmarks that have been closed as a result of the outbreak. This includes locations such as Dorsey’s Knob and Cathederal State Park, who much like the popular Cooper’s Rock, has been closed on government orders. For now, Riddle says the intent is to promote the best parts of North Central West Virginia as possible.
“As long as we are doing the right thing, as soon as that gets reopened we’ll have all of those resources out there again for people to start and make those connections, and bring people here to the region,” she said.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has confirmed 29 new COVID-19 cases bringing the statewide total to 191.
As of April 1, 4,575 West Virginians have been tested for COVID-19 with 4,384 negative results, keeping the overall infection rate at four percent.
Locally, Monongalia County is up one case to 32, Harrison County increased by four cases to 14, Marion County now has 8 and Preston County has 3 cases.
MORGANTOWN,W.Va. – On Wednesday, Mon County commissioners declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
MECCA 911 Director Jim Smith updated commissioners about when the peak might hit West Virginia.
“We’re at the beginning,”Smith said,”They are not projecting West Virginia to hit the peak until May 1, about one month from now.”
Smith says leadership at the state and local level has put our state ahead of some others in terms of safety.
“Since West Virginia did have the advantage of seeing what was going on throughout the country, we did start early,”Smith said,”They believe that will help us in trying to keep our numbers down.”
Smith says if our infection rate remains low and residents follow CDC guidelines our hospital capacity will likely be able to handle a surge.
“These last two weeks have been long and the next will be even longer,”Smith said,”But, I think if we stay the course we’ll see the benefits from it.”
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Due to the COVID-19 crisis members of Morgantown city council has agreed to table the nuisance ordinance issue.
Several community members spoke in favor of tabling the measure due to the crisis and constitutional concerns.
Council members reported that many food pantries need volunteers because people who run the facilities are considered medically at risk during the COVID-19 outbreak. Residents are urged to weigh their risks and consider donating either time or money. As the crisis continues, council members fear food supplies will begin to suffer.
Third Ward Councilman Zack Cruze raised immediate concerns about large gatherings and asked for the emergency declaration to be enacted.
“We’re essentially having large parties within the Third Ward. There’s a house I can see out my window currently that’s basically operating as a nightclub now,”Cruze said,”Last night, they had strobe lights and a large party.”
Morgantown Chief of Police Ed Preston explained they have responded to serveral reports and they have either dispersed or the report was exaggerated.
“We had one report of 30 people on a porch, it was four when we got there,”Preston said,”More of the things we’re dealing with are loud noise complaints, with more people being at home they’re seeing and hearing things they would have heard because normally they would be at work.”
Preston added that violations of the governor’s order could be punished by up to one year in jail, while city emergency declaration carries a $500 fine and no jail time.
Members of council expressed concerns about the homeless population through the crisis and wanted to take action, Councilor Cruze suggested temporary camps with hygiene facilities.
“Establishing, like other cities have done a temporary tent camp for individuals who are unsheltered and who may be experiencing mental health or other conditions that limit their ability to be sheltered,”Cruze said.
Preston said maintaining social distance in that environment would be nearly impossible and keeping the hygiene facilities sanitized would require constant maintenance.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Hospitals and medical facilities across the country are making several adjustments to policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mon Health is waiving all patient fees for Telehealth services, including deductibles and co-payments
Locally, hospitals are working to keep as many materials and staff on standby for the expected rush of people to come in as a result of COVID-19. In the meantime, elective operations are put on hold while other doctors try to keep meetings and other appointments up in running through telemedicine.
“This uses technology to allow virtual visits, where a provider can evaluate and see a patient without the patient physically being there,” explains Mon Health Senior Vice President of Clinical Affairs Gregory Nelcamp.
The programs implemented using telemedicine are very much following in what appears to be the new normal as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Instead of having patients come in to a Mon Health facility, they would instead use doxi.me to talk to a health specialists who can then refer them to either come in for a doctors visit or discuss further treatments in the future. This allows patients of all ages, including those who might be susceptible to diseases or might have one, to be analyzed without putting themselves or others at risk.
“That is also very simple to use,” said Nelcamp describing the technology. “It requires no app downloads, it requires no special programs, it is all browser based, and it works tremendously well on a wide variety of devices,” he said.
Aside from the health benefits of not having to wait at a doctor’s office or a waiting room, the convenience factors of discussing issues with your doctor or specialists are also being considered. Instead of having to drive or have a doctor visit your home, a patients can log into a doxi.me portal and have a doctor help you out immediately and conveniently. In turn, this saves the patient and doctors time to address needs in a more efficient approach.
“It is a way to significantly decrease the need to show up at your provider’s office at a time when we would like only those necessary and urgent visits to come,” said Nelcamp.
Telemedicine appears to be one of several new policies expected to take place across the medical field in response to COVID-19. As a result of the outbreak, medical facilities across the country are taking the approach of accepting patients depending on the level of severity. Seeing this as the potential approach of the “new normal,” Mon Health already began making steps toward telemedicine before COVID-19 according to Nelcamp. Now, until there’s more clarity on the outbreak, this trend will continue to be encouraged.
“We want the people to come to the clinic who are necessary and urgent,” he explained. “Emergent are obviously welcomed, but we want to minimize that just for the safety of our patients,” he said.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Several local organizations across North Central West Virginia are making adjustment to their services in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Among those remaining in operation, include Senior Monongalians who are working to continue as many services as possible as non-essential services continue to stay shut down as a result of government order. This includes any home health aid services and any direct personal services considered essential.
“We have suspended all non-essential services here at the center, but we are open,” said Senior Monongalians Front Office Supervisor Debbie Clarke. “In case any senior has an emergency and has to come here to the center, for housing or whatever that might be,” she said.
The stay-at-home orders that have included business shutdowns have been in effect since mid-March in West Virginia. As a result, this has lead to an increase in deliveries and home services that are needing to take place for Senior Mons. According to Clarke, deliveries have been increasing from the seventy-five food deliveries that are normally made daily.
“We’ve probably received an increase of about ten to fifteen and the calls just continue everyday,” she said. “Both from seniors who are concerned and family members who are concerned,” she said.
While tending to an extra amount of seniors via home visits as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, volunteers from across the region have made efforts to make sure Senior Mons continues to operate to the best of it’s abilities. According to Clarke, representatives from Stonebridge Baptist Church and other volunteers have done deep cleanings to their kitchen and library with other areas of their facilities expected to be addressed in the near future.
“We’ve had other individuals offer to come in and deep clean some of our other areas but we’ve not been able to make that connection to get that done yet,” she said.
As more clarity continues to be discovered over the COVID-19, several services will continue to remain on hold as more developments are made during the outbreak. Even though there is a level of uncertainty in regards to what will remain open but Clarke is stating that until something drastic changes, any in home services provided by Senior Monongalians will continue.
“We’re planning on being here everyday to answer any questions that seniors or their families might have,’ she said.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A group of sixteen Morgantown missionaries are beck in the mountain State after being caught in Honduras just as the global pandemic began.
Retired Morgantown architect John Sausen says they arrive on March 14 and quickly were advised to arrange for travel back to the United States.
“Before we could do that, the very next day the Honduran government closed the airports,”Sausen said,”The next day they closed the borders and would let anyone leave or enter the country.”
In the meantime, the group was able to build one structure and prepare 200 food bags to distribute to local families.
“That was a real blessing to them,”Sausen said,”Because, they closed grocery stores, gas stations and banks, so the local people had no way of finding food for themselves.”
Sausen says after days of phone conversations with the U.S. Embassy, the offices of Congressman McKinley and U.S. Senators Manchin and Capito the Honduran government made an adjustment to their policy.
“The Honduran government said even though our borders are closed and the airports are closed,”Sausen said,”We will allow commercial flights in to take nationals out of the country.”
The group finally arrived back in Morgantown in the early morning hours of March 21. Sausen says they were in a COVID-19 free area and none of the members of the group had any symptoms and still don’t.
“The area where we were at, there were no viruses detected,”Sausen said,”So, in some respects we were very safe being sequestered from the rest of the population.”
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – During a Monday afternoon update from the Sundale Nursing Home in Morgantown, Doctor Carl Shrader says they are encouraged eight days after the first positive COVID-19 test result was received.
“We still have 17 of the positive residents here in-house,”Shrader said,”Three are still at Ruby Memorial and on is at Mon Health in ICU.”
Additionally, eight staff members are quarantining at home.
Shrader says they are taking temperatures every four hours on all residents, continuing to treat the COVID-19 patients in an isolated wing and every eight hours they are washing of the residents with alcohol.
He says extensive cleaning and sanitizing work is ongoing.
“Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration is coming today to decontaminate again, the hall areas of all the units,”Shrader said,”Environmental Services is focusing on patient rooms where they continue to clean bed rails, telephones, remotes and switches-all the things we touch with our hands.”
The COVID-19 patients are being treated by six workers, Shrader says they have secured housing for the workers and they receive a pay differential.
“I feel the next few days are very critical to know what we have,”Shrader said,”We feel like we’re in a holding pattern right now, people are stable to improved and that’s reassuring to us.”