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West Virginia prepares for coronavirus vaccine distributions

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Joint Interagency Task Force that will be key to distributions of coronavirus vaccines in West Virginia is now up and running with emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for at least two vaccines expected this month.

“We feel pretty comfortable we’re doing well and we’re at the point where we need to be right now,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, adjutant general for the West Virginia National Guard.

Maj. Gen. James Hoyer

He talked about the vaccine plans during an appearance on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline,” a day after a task force kickoff meeting.

On Tuesday, members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices were meeting to establish U.S. vaccine priority recommendations for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As many as 40 million doses, enough for 20 million people since pending vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna require two doses, could be available before the end of year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources.

FDA approval for the Pfizer vaccine may come as early as Dec. 10 with Moderna approval prior to Christmas.

Once approvals are finalized, Maj. Gen. Hoyer said vaccines could start being moved to states within 24 hours.

“States will do it differently,” he said. “Some states will push it directly to hospitals. Some states will go to the county level. We believe that we’re putting together the approach that’s best for West Virginia.”

In general, West Virginia will have a series of primary sites for vaccine distributions — hubs and sub-hubs — supplying different parts of the Mountain State.

Some of those sites could be at hospitals, medical schools or even bases for the West Virginia Air National Guard to allow for shipment by air, if necessary.

Under West Virginia’s tentative vaccination plan, hospital employees, nursing home staff members, EMS workers and other first responders would be the first to get shots, according to Hoyer.

“We’re going to be focusing on those to reduce our fatality rate, protect our most vulnerable citizens and to keep our healthcare system up and running because of the nature of the health issues we have in West Virginia,” he said.

A tabletop distribution exercise for the Joint Interagency Task Force was planned for Thursday.

Maj. Gen. James Hoyer joins @HoppyKercheval to discuss distributing vaccinations across West Virginia, and how it will all work. WATCH:

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) December 1, 2020

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Nearly two dozen deaths added to West Virginia’s coronavirus death toll

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More than 20 additional deaths of West Virginians attributed to COVID-19 were confirmed through the state Department of Health and Human Resources to start the day Tuesday, the first day of December.

The 23 deaths included the following people:

– 99-year old man from Marshall County,
– a 72-year old man from Fayette County,
– a 91-year old man from Harrison County,
– an 81-year old man from Wood County,
– an 88-year old man from Raleigh County,
– an 82-year old woman from Kanawha County,
– a 65-year old man from Cabell County,
– a 59-year old woman from Mercer County,
– a 90-year old woman from Pocahontas County,
– a 69-year old man from Mercer County,
– a 77-year old man from Harrison County,
– a 55-year old woman from Harrison County,
– a 60-year old man from Boone County,
– a 76-year old woman from Lincoln County,
– a 68-year old man from Berkeley County,
– a 66-year old woman from Wyoming County,
– a 79-year old woman from Berkeley County,
– an 80-year old man from Hancock County,
– a 92-year old woman from Ritchie County,
– a 74-year old man from Mineral County,
– an 83-year old woman from Mineral County,
– a 77-year old man from Mineral County,
– and a 73-year old woman from Lincoln County.

In DHHR reporting, the daily virus infection was down from Monday’s 7.07 percent to 6.07 percent, though health officials have cautioned the numbers were being affected by less frequest testing during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

West Virginia’s cumulative infection rate was 3.67 percent as of Tuesday.

Active case numbers were at 16,921 with 976 new additions since Monday morning.

Hospitalizations totaled 595 with 166 of those patients in intensive care and 81 on ventilators.

Seven counties were listed as red counties for what was defined as “substantial” coronavirus transmission: Mineral, Grant, Ohio, Marshall, Wirt, Mason and Wyoming.

CASES PER COUNTY: Barbour (441), Berkeley (3,374), Boone (663), Braxton (119), Brooke (682), Cabell (2,956), Calhoun (81), Clay (120), Doddridge (125), Fayette (1,177), Gilmer (209), Grant (405), Greenbrier (534), Hampshire (353), Hancock (753), Hardy (295), Harrison (1,463), Jackson (706), Jefferson (1,413), Kanawha (5,785), Lewis (242), Lincoln (433), Logan (1,069), Marion (927), Marshall (1,276), Mason (513), McDowell (629), Mercer (1,374), Mineral (1,356), Mingo (990), Monongalia (3,373), Monroe (379), Morgan (297), Nicholas (371), Ohio (1,613), Pendleton (109), Pleasants (101), Pocahontas (215), Preston (664), Putnam (2,009), Raleigh (1,644), Randolph (718), Ritchie (182), Roane (188), Summers (2748), Taylor (360), Tucker (141), Tyler (141), Upshur (523), Wayne (1,052), Webster (69), Wetzel (415), Wirt (117), Wood (2,639), Wyoming (756).

Free COVID-19 testing was continuing statewide.

The full schedule was posted HERE.

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MetroNews This Morning 12-1-20

The first significant snow of the season is arriving in West Virginia. Covid 19 cases are on the rise and prompting stark concern from Governor Jim Justice who may soon implement new county-by-county restrictions. A fatal fire in Raleigh County is under investigation. The West Virginia Black Bears baseball team gets a new lease on life and WVU basketball heads to Indy to face #1 Gonzaga. Those stories and more in today’s MetroNews This Morning podcast.

Listen to “MetroNews This Morning 12-1-20” on Spreaker.

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Man killed in Raleigh County fire

RALEIGH COUNTY, W.Va. — One death is being reported after a house fire in Raleigh County.

The fire in Fairdale happened around 6 p.m. Monday.

The man killed was 73, according to investigators.

No determination of a possible cause of the fire was immediately released.

Officials with the State Fire Marshal’s office were involved in the investigation.

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Murder suspect arrested in Pocahontas County

POCAHONTAS COUNTY, W.Va. — A Pocahontas County man was being held without bond at the Tygart Valley Regional Jail following his arrest last week on a first-degree murder charge.

Jeremi Kincaid

State Police alleged Jeremi Kincaid, 27, of Marlinton, shot and killed a man identified as Galen Biggs during an argument last Friday, Nov. 27, at a home in Marlinton.

Troopers said Kincaid claimed Biggs shot at him first.

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Altruism Needed to Fight Pandemic in WV

The pandemic is getting worse in West Virginia.

The number of daily cases is rising more rapidly than any other time during the pandemic.  The total number of active positive cases reached 16,787 Sunday night, seventeen percent higher than a week ago.

Hospitalizations are surging.   The latest DHHR figures show 597 Covid-19 patients in state hospitals.  That is the highest number since the pandemic began and twice as many as two weeks ago.

Hospitals are getting crowded.  As a result, Governor Jim Justice has announced a cutback in elective procedures.  “At this point in time, if truly we’re going to be overrun with our hospitals, we need to move immediately upon that guidance to stopping elective surgeries.”

That is going to be hard on West Virginians who have been waiting for procedures that will ease chronic pain or improve their quality of life.  The move also puts additional financial strain on hospitals that rely on those surgeries as a steady source of revenue.

Yesterday, Justice was met by a small group of anti-mask protesters as he entered the Capitol.  The protesters represent a percentage of West Virginians—I’m not sure how big—who believe the Governor’s mask mandate is an infringement on their personal liberties.

There is a great irony here.

West Virginia’s best defense against the spread of the virus is to follow the safety recommendations—wear a mask and socially distance. Justice, state and local health officials have stressed that over and over.

However, if not enough West Virginians follow the guidelines, the virus will worsen, forcing Justice to take more drastic steps, which represents even greater government intrusion, which is the very thing the protesters are objecting to.

And health officials fear the situation is going to get worse.

“Make no mistake about it, we are entering a new part of this pandemic,” said Covid-19 Czar Dr. Clay Marsh, “and it’s one that poses a threat to us if we don’t act vigorously, consistently and altruistically.”

It is notable that Marsh referenced altruism, the practice of demonstrating unselfish concern for the welfare of others.  Dr. Marsh has consistently refrained from threatening the heavy hand of government to try to force compliance.

Instead, he has appealed to the well-established willingness of West Virginians to help friends and strangers alike.  That is not an order from the government, but rather a recognition of the power that each of us possess to make life a little easier for others.


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WVU set to challenge No. 1 Gonzaga in Indianapolis Wednesday

(Bob Huggins pregame Zoom conference)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When West Virginia’s home opener was postponed due to COVID cases within the Youngstown State program, an opportunity arose that was too good for Bob Huggins to refuse. While in South Dakota and preparing for their season opener, Huggins saw a chance to elevate their non-conference schedule. And he seized it.

“We were sitting there watching basketball and it came across the ticker that Tennessee had kind of an outbreak,” Huggins said. “So they canceled and they needed a game. I have been doing this a long time. I’ve got some very dear friends at ESPN and thought, what the heck, let’s go play Gonzaga.”

Bob Huggins of the West Virginia Mountaineers discusses a call with official Gary Maxwell during the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic (Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)

Gonzaga has transitioned from a top mid-major program into a national title contender on an annual basis under head coach Mark Few. The Bulldogs entered the season as the nation’s top-ranked team and they strengthened their hold on the top spot with wins over No. 6 Kansas and Auburn in Florida over Thanksgiving weekend.

“They’re very, very skilled. I think that has been a trait of Gonzaga basketball for a lot of years. They pass it extremely well. They shoot it extremely well. They shoot it as well as anybody we have played in a very long time.”

“The way the season ended last year, I feel like we had a good chance to make a run the way we were playing last year,” said WVU senior guard Taz Sherman. “So this is a statement game for us. We want to show everybody that we deserve to be one of those teams that is talked about in the Final Four and National Championship conversation. That’s why this is a big game.”

“With us being where we are in this season, and them being number one, it is definitely a great opportunity for us to be playing the number one team in the country this early,” said WVU senior forward Gabe Osabuohien. “But also, it is good for ourselves to know where we are at. If the whole country is calling them number one, for us to play them is going to show us where we stand and what our chances are of a national championship.”

“We have always played a hard schedule,” Huggins said. “We have always played somebody that, they may not have been the number one ranked team in the country but they were in the top ten and certainly probably could have been the number one ranked team in the country. We haven’t ran from anybody.”

6-foot-10 forward Drew Timme and 6-foot-7 forward Corey Kispert have combined to average 50.5 points per game in the Bulldogs’ 2-0 start.

“I would love those guys coming off the bench to play about 35 minutes, instead of the guys they are starting,” Huggins said. “Those guys that are starting are really good. I don’t worry about Derek (Culver’s) ability to matchup with a 7-footer. Gabe (Osabuohien) guards anybody. We can put Gabe on their point guard and we can put him on their center. I don’t think that is as big of an issue as what our perimeter defense has been.”

West Virginia defeated South Dakota State, VCU and Western Kentucky en route to the championship at the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic last week.

“Our floor vision has got to improve,” Huggins said. “But I think to pass it, first of all you have to want to pass it. We need to get to there too.”

“I feel like we can get into our offensive sets quicker and be more efficient with that,” Sherman said. “Also, I think we can keep our defensive intensity throughout the entire game instead of just a quick 10-minute spurt, or when we are down a couple points and we have to make a comeback. I feel like we should be able to hold our defensive intensity like we did towards the end of the season last year.”

Minutes were scarce for several of West Virginia’s newcomers. Fairmont Senior grad Jalen Bridges led all newcomers with 17 minutes in the 3 games.

“We didn’t get to see enough of them,” Huggins said. “We had to try to win a game. You feel a whole lot more comfortable with guys that have been there before. We tried to get them in as much as we could get them in. But they didn’t get enough playing time.”


Schedule notes (provided by Taylor Kennedy)

  • WVU is 5-10 all-time against No. 1 rated teams
    • The last win came back in 2017 against Baylor at home. WVU won 89-68.
    • The first win came against North Carolina in 1956. WVU won 75-64.
  • The last time WVU played a top-3 team in its first 5 games came back in 2005 against Texas. The Mountaineers lost 76-75.
    • There were four other occurrences when this happened.
      • The 1979-80 season against #3 Ohio State (L; 72-55)
      • The 1970-71 season against #3 Kentucky (L; 106-100)
      • The 1969-70 season against #2 Kentucky (L; 106-87)
      • The 1955-56 season against #2 North Carolina State (L; 92-71)
  • Gonzaga head coach Mark Few is 10-21 all-time against AP top-11 teams with the Bulldogs.

Culver snags Big 12 honor

WVU junior Derek Culver has been named the Big 12 Player of the Week. Culver was named MVP of the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic after leading West Virginia to a 3-0 start. He collected a double-double with 23 points and 15 rebounds against VCU and scored 15 points in the championship win over Western Kentucky.

Derek Culver #1 of the West Virginia Mountaineers drives into Hason Ward #20 of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams (Photo by Richard Carlson/Inertia)

The forward registered 14 rebounds and four blocked shots against South Dakota State. Culver averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks for the week while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 75.0 percent from the free throw line.

Moving on up

With a 3-0 week in South Dakota, the Mountaineers jumped up four spots to No. 11 in this week’s Associated Press poll. Baylor is ranked second. Kansas is seventh. Texas and Texas Tech are tied for 17th. Future WVU opponent Richmond entered the rankings at No. 19. The Spiders defeated Kentucky on Sunday.

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W.Va.’s first charter school application is shot down by Monongalia board

Monongalia County’s school board has rejected an application for what might have been the first charter school in West Virginia.

The board unanimously voted against the application by the West Virginia Academy during an hour-long meeting at midday. The neighboring Preston County school board separately voted down the same proposal during its own 5 p.m. meeting today.

The school has been envisioned as serving students in Monongalia, Marion and Preston counties. But the application didn’t add up, said Nancy Walker, president of the Monongalia County school board.

Nancy Walker

“There still were a lot of unanswered areas in their application,” Walker said in a telephone interview with MetroNews.

Walker said individual kept an open mind until time to hear today’s presentation — then rendering a judgment like a jury might. But she said board members had a variety of concerns about the project.

Some board concerns focused on survey results while others questioned whether the charter school proposal was truly offering a new approach. There was another question about whether computer equipment would be adequate.

She said the application did not meet seven specific standards that were reviewed by county school system administrators.

“There were just some holes in the application,” Walker said.

She added, “They just didn’t meet the level of what we felt needed to be happening for a charter school.”

West Virginia’s legislature approved the establishment of charter schools last year after months of debate on an omnibus education bill. Gov. Jim Justice signed the bill into law in June, 2019.

The measure allows for three charter schools to be opened in the state but requires local approval within 90 days of an application.

Charter schools would be part of the state’s public education system and would be given greater latitude in exchange for the possibility of losing their right to operate if they fail.

The Cardinal Institute, a West Virginia think tank that supports charter schools, described the Monongalia County vote as unfortunate.

Garrett Ballengee

“At the end of the day, charter schools are simply about giving an additional option to families who might be looking for something different or unique for their own child. The Monongalia County Board of Education’s decision, for now, shuts that opportunity down for thousands of students in Monongalia and Preston counties,” said Garrett Ballengee, director of the Cardinal Institute.

“I think this points to a fatal flaw in the law itself by giving a competitor’s veto to the county school board with very few options for recourse.”

He said few states have given local school boards the sole power to veto charter school applicants.

“I suspect we haven’t seen the end of this battle in Monongalia County, however, and I have little doubt that the West Virginia Legislature is keeping a very close eye on how this progresses as it readies itself for the 2021 legislative session,” Ballengee said.

Monongalia education association
Heather Nestor

The Monongalia County Education Association had opposed the charter school application. Heather Nestor, president of the local teachers union, expressed concern that a new charter school would have spread local resources thinner while not actually providing a substantially different education offering.

“The need for it just isn’t there,” Nestor said. “If they were offering something that our schools didn’t already offer, I could see — if it were some kind of magnet school or some type of art school or STEM school programs that aren’t already in our schools, maybe we could take that gamble.

“I’m just not sure why you would want to create another school where you’re not sure how it’s going to be staffed, even the physical location of the buildings. I feel like taking a gamble with that amount of money at this point, they just needed to have things more in place if they really want this school here.”

Walker said it’s possible a charter school application could meet muster in the future. But, she said, it’s hard to imagine how.

“I think that possibility’s always out there,” she said. “But I think there’s going to have to be an exemplary program that is put out that would meet the needs of all students and all families that may want to apply to go to a charter school in our county. We have excellent schools in Monongalia County, and I think it’s going to be hard for someone to come up with something better than the educational programs we’re currently providing.

“This application was not able to meet the standards in enough areas for us to consider it.”

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Extended break not ideal for WVU heading into Iowa State matchup

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia is coming off an unexpected second bye week after Oklahoma was unable to play in Morgantown this past weekend due to COVID cases within the Sooner program. When the Mountaineers take the field Saturday at No. 12 Iowa State (7-2), 20 days will have passed between games.

“It was disappointing. I understand we are in unique times. We have done relatively well managing it here but that could change at any moment. I am not naive. I understand where Oklahoma is coming from and I understand their position,” said WVU head coach Neal Brown.

“We probably would have rather not had that extra week, honestly. For this time of year, we’re in a good position. I think we will be pretty close to full strength as long as everything goes well this week.”

West Virginia (5-3) will wrap up their regular season against the two opponents in the drivers seat to play in the Big 12 Championship game on December 19.

“We are going to be tested with both of these opponents. This is rare because we have already scouted pretty heavy our last opponent just like we have scouted pretty heavy our next opponent, two of the teams playing as good as anybody in our league finishing up. I think the keys for us to win is we’ll have to take care of the football, establish the run game and be able to stop the run. Down the stretch, those are going to be critical pieces for us.”

Iowa State ran their record to 7-1 in league play with a come-from-behind 23-20 win at Texas on Friday. The Cyclones outscored the Longhorns 10-0 in the fourth quarter. A 3-yard touchdown run by Breece Hall with 1:25 left in the game gave ISU their first lead in the contest.

“Our detail early wasn’t really sharp and I felt like they did control the early part of the game,” said Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell. “I think the biggest thing from our end when we had the moments and our backs were against the wall, we were able to make significant plays to give ourselves chances to be successful.”

Iowa State Cyclones tight end Charlie Kolar (88) avoids tackle from Texas Longhorns defensive back Caden Sterns (Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports)

Iowa State will become one of three teams, Kansas State and Texas Tech are the others, to play their full ten-game regular season with no COVID-related postponements.

“Forever it will be this group’s ability to stay the course, being able to stay on the field and continue to work and improve,” Campbell said. “That challenge still exists. That is something that will be really interesting to see if we can continue to stay the course. I think that continues to get harder when our environment around us continues to be a challenge. I think what our young men have been able to do up to this point has certainly been a huge factor, continuing to improve.”

The Big 12 Conference has announced that West Virginia’s regular season finale against Oklahoma on December 12 will kick at either noon or 3:30 p.m. The time will be finalized after this week’s slate of games.

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The Game Within The Game (Episode 28)

Wild finishes, backdoor covers and underdogs ruling the day…week 12 in the NFL wasn’t for the faint of heart. Host Brad Howe and longtime Las Vegas oddsmaker Dave Sharapan recap the week that was and look ahead to week 13 in the NFL, including:

*MNF preview (SEA vs PHI)

*First TD scorer prop bet for MNF

*Three week 13 lines that caught Dave’s attention

*This is the time of year to embrace the ‘stink’ when it comes to NFL lines

All of that and more in the latest episode of The Game Within The Game presented by DraftKings.

New users on DraftKings Sportsbookremember  to use code METROGAME for a special sign up bonus offer.


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