The Voice of West Virginia
On his first day in office, President Joe Biden released his National Strategy for the Covid-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. One of the seven parts of the plan calls for a “safe, effective, and comprehensive vaccination campaign.”
Hopefully, the new administration will do a better job distributing the life-saving vaccines because the rollout on the federal level to date has been a dismal failure. Health officials in West Virginia and across the country have been severely limited in getting shots in arms because they cannot get the promised number of doses.
The failure was highlighted by the Washington Post last week when it reported that then Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar’s plan to release doses held in reserve for the second shot failed because, “no such reserve existed.”
As the Post reported, “Now, health officials across the country who had anticipated their extremely limited vaccine supply as much as doubling beginning (this week) are confronting the reality that their allocations will remain largely flat.”
In West Virginia, the impact is dramatic. The state requested and was expecting 100,000 doses this week, but it received only 23,000. Meanwhile, the state has followed the CDC recommendations for expanding the age groups available to receive shots.
The result is predictable; thousands more West Virginians are trying to get shots, and the demand is far outpacing the supply.
Older West Virginians trying to call health departments and clinics to schedule vaccinations are met with constant busy signals, even after calling dozens of times. Many who manage to get through are told there are no more doses.
“I understand the frustration,” said West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services Commissioner Robert Roswall. “Don’t give up,” he added. “(Health Departments) are working on that as quickly as they can.”
But health departments are not set up to handle hundreds of calls and they have quickly become overwhelmed. Some of the larger health departments have added staff to field calls, but smaller facilities are just swamped.
DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch announced this week the state will soon have in place a centralized registration system. That should help to better organize the distribution, but the vaccinations will still be severely limited until West Virginia gets more doses.
Governor Jim Justice and his Covid-19 Task Force members have been pressing Washington for more vaccine, but they are getting the same answer as when folks get through to their local health department—they don’t have the doses.
Despite the shortage of vaccines and the strain on the distribution system, West Virginia is still doing better than nearly every other state in getting shots in arms. That tells you how poorly the operation is working in most of the country.
However, if you are a West Virginian waiting for a shot, the commendable national statistic is not much consolation.
The post WV Struggles To Get Covid-19 Doses for Seniors as Federal Rollout Flounders appeared first on WV MetroNews.
WESTON, W.Va. — An Ohio man already serving time related to an October 2016 robbery admitted to a carjacking related to the incident.
Ryan Ashley Hubbs, of Paris, Ohio, pleaded guilty on Thursday to carjacking, in which he admitted to using violence to steal a Honda CR-V.
Hubbs, 38, later was involved in a car wreck that killed David Glasscock, 64, and 65-year-old Sandra Glasscock.
Hubbs was previously sentenced to between 10 and 18 years for second-degree robbery.
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More than three dozen hospital beds are going to be put into use at the Fairmont Regional Medical Center after a surge of COVID-19 patients in north central West Virginia.
“This will enable Fairmont Hospital to care for up to 42 patients and provide the necessary services to meet the needs of COVID patients and others so their care won’t be delayed,” Gov. Jim Justice said during his Thursday media briefing.
He said 65 workers would be added at the hospital.
Active COVID-19 counties in Marion, Harrison and Monongalia counties account for nearly 17% of all active cases in the state. Over the last seven days, 873 new COVID-19 cases have been reported by local health departments.
“This requires us to act now, and be prepared in regard to our hospitalization rates,” Justice said. “The recent COVID surge is exceeding in-patient capacity at WVU Hospital and the United Hospital Center in Clarksburg. Many individuals are delaying care because there are no beds available.”
WVU Medicine, which oversees the operations at the Fairmont hospital, released the following statement Thursday afternoon:
“Yes, we can confirm what the Governor said relative to the expansion at Fairmont, and we appreciate his support of our need to do so. It’s also very accurate to say that ICU bed capacity, as well as general hospital capacity, remains a significant and on-going challenge at Ruby due to COVID-19. We’ve had to defer many non-emergent surgeries to make beds available for COVID-19 patients.”
A partnership between the state and WVU was announced last March that would keep a portion of the original building operational after an earlier announcement from then operator Aletco they planned to close the facility.
“We appreciate WVU Hospital for stepping up and helping us with this important task,” Justice said. “We’re committed to seeing that our healthcare needs are met in this region and the rest of our state.”
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Gov. Jim Justice announced a new, online registration system for covid vaccinations, aiming to get a handle on lengthy waits. And the governor also described early communications with the incoming Biden administration with the hope of increasing vaccine supply.
His comments this afternoon came shortly before new President Joe Biden made his own national comments on the covid fight, promising a “full-scale, wartime effort.”
“We’ve got to get behind the efforts of our new president and try with all in us to make things better and better for the great people of West Virginia,” Justice, a Republican, said today.
The governor said he’d already been on a call with the nation’s new coronavirus czar, Jeff Zients, about an hour after the new Democratic president was sworn in Wednesday. “He seemed like a really go-getter kind of guy,” Justice said.
The governor said he underscored that West Virginia can use vaccine supplies just as fast as supply can be churned out. “If I had the vaccines I could maybe save somebody’s life today,” Justice said he told Zients.
Justice also recounted saying, “You’ve got to some way get more vaccines.”
West Virginia has ranked at the top of the nation in terms of the percentage of its available doses being used.
State figures show 137,068 West Virginians receiving vaccinations so far. That’s out of the state’s 1.79 million population.
Biden, in his own comments this afternoon, promised a range of actions but also assessed, “We didn’t get into this mess overnight.” He added, “While the vaccine has provided so much hope, the rollout has been a dismal failure thus far.”
Biden soberly projected the United States will surpass 500,000 deaths next month. “Let me be very clear,” he said. “Things are going to continue to get worse before they get better.”
One of the major challenges is ramping up national manufacturing capacity.
“The brutal truth is, it’s going to take months before we can get the majority of Americans vaccinated,” Biden said.
The new president signed 10 executive orders this afternoon aimed at boosting availability of tests and vaccines, as well as making schools and travel safer. He also promised more financial support for states.
“To a nation waiting for action, let me be clearest on this point: Help is on the way,” Biden said.
Biden said the administration directed FEMA to establish a covid response liaison for each state, “which means every state will have a point person at the federal level to maximize cooperation between the federal government and the states.”
“We’re going to take immediate steps to partner with governors, mayors and other officials we’ve been talking to all along who are on the front lines of this fight,” he said.
This afternoon, I’ll be taking decisive action to change the course of this pandemic and get COVID-19 under control. Tune in. https://t.co/v23hhuTktf
— President Biden (@POTUS) January 21, 2021
During his regular briefing, Justice focused on trying to ease bottlenecks in West Virginia’s response.
West Virginia has announced residents 65 and older are eligible for vaccinations, in accordance with federal guidelines. But many have wound up on lengthy waiting lists or experiencing repeated busy signals while trying to call.
“I know people are calling like crazy and can’t get through and everything. I just ask you to be as patient as you possibly can,” Justice said.
“We do not have enough doses of vaccine for all West Virginians age 65 and above at this time.”
The governor announced West Virginia will roll out an online vaccination appointment system through a company called Everbridge. State officials said that will cost $760,000 this year, an amount that is likely to be covered through federal relief funds.
West Virginia officials are aiming to have the system publicly available by 8 a.m. Monday. Justice said older residents who are not comfortable online may still call for appointments. And those who are already on waiting lists will not be bumped because of the new system, officials said.
“This will keep people from having to call time and time and time again,” Justice said. “I hear you, and I don’t like the fact that you’re having to call and call and call and call.”
Speaking today on MetroNews’ “Talkline,” Kanawha-Charleston health department health officer Sherri Young described the vaccinations of 7,000 individuals so far, along with second doses starting.
But she said the county could distribute more if it just had greater supply. “We just want more vaccine so we can put more vaccine in arms,” she said.
Young said the local call center has been flooded with demand. “We could make a thousand appointments for next week,” she said. “We don’t know how many vaccines we’re going to get. That’s part of the issue.”
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) January 21, 2021
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Citing medical reasons, West Virginia University Chief of Police W.P. Chedester is stepping down.
“After careful consideration in consultation with my family, health care providers and WVU colleagues, I have made the difficult decision to step down from my position as University Police chief,” Chedester said in a Thursday news release. “It truly has been a privilege to lead the University Police team these past two years, and I look forward to continuing to protect and serve our campus community in my new role while focusing on my health at the same time.”
Deputy Chief Phil Scott will serve as the interim chief and Chedester will serve as a lieutenant within the department.
Scott had a 25-year career with the Morgantown Police Department. He was the force’s lead detective before serving six years as police chief. Following his retirement, he took a job with the WVU Police in 2011.
“W.P. is a close friend and a valued member of the WVU family,” Scott said. “I am honored and humbled to follow him and serve as University Police’s interim chief. However, I also am thankful W.P. will remain part of our team, and I look forward to continuing to work with him in serving West Virginia University’s students, faculty and staff.”
The university said he will conduct a national search for a permanent chief.
Former Morgantown City Council candidate Timothy Metz has admitted to falsifying signatures during the 2019 municipal election.
Metz pleaded guilty Thursday in Monongalia County Circuit Court to one felony count of falsely filing a certification of nomination
The Secretary of State’s Office launched the investigation after being notified by Morgantown officials. The investigation found 21 of the 75 required signatures to get on the ballot were fraudulent, including one signature of deceased person.
When Metz withdrew from the election process in March of 2019 he said he had “cut corners.” Metz was indicted by a Mon County Grand Jury in September.
Metz was sentenced to two years probation under a pre-trial diversion agreement backed by Monongalia County Prosecutor Perri DeChristopher.
Secretary of State Mac Warner said election fraud will not be tolerated.
“Our office will continue to work closely with local election officials and county prosecutors to make sure election improprieties are properly investigated and those people found guilty are held accountable,” Warner said in a statement released by his office.
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU safety Sean Mahone will remain in Morgantown for a sixth season of eligibility this fall. Mahone announced on his Instagram site Thursday afternoon that he is taking advantage of an extra season afforded by the NCAA due to the pandemic.
Mahone is the fourth Mountaineer to announce he is taking advantage of the extra season. Safety Alonzo Addae, defensive lineman Jeffery Pooler, Jr. and kicker Evan Staley will all take the field for one additional season.
Mahone collected 54 tackles this season, which was the fifth most on the WVU roster. He redshirted in 2016 and has since played in 42 games at WVU, racking up 143 tackles.
Earlier Thursday, wide receiver Ali Jennings announced he is entering the NCAA transfer portal. Jennings appeared in eight games during his sophomore season, reeling in 7 passes for 48 yards with a touchdown.
Chapter 3… pic.twitter.com/VgGONaZEHB
— Ali Jennings (@RJXIII) January 21, 2021
The Richmond, Va. native made three starts as a freshman in 2019. He caught 19 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown a year ago.
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FAIRLEA, W.Va. — Investigators have concluded a Greenbrier County woman murdered five young boys, set the family’s house on fire and then took her own life.
Greenbrier County Sheriff Bruce Sloan detailed the results of the investigation in a Thursday news conference in Fairlea.
Authorities began their investigation into the deaths following a house fire near the community of Williamsburg on Dec. 8.
According to Sloan, Oreanna Myers, 25, shot all five children, including three of her own, with a 4/10 single shot shotgun. She then set the two-story house on fire, went outside and shot herself. Her body was found near a picnic table. The shotgun was beside her body.
In several notes left behind, Myers said she was suffering from mental illness.
“This is no one’s fault but my own. My demons won over me. Sorry, I wasn’t strong enough,” she wrote.
Myers was married to Brian Bumgarner. They had three boys together. The other two children at the home were from Bumgarner’s first marriage.
Sheriff Sloan said Bumgarner had been away from the home for various periods of time over a 10-day period because the family’s only vehicle had been involved in a crash. Bumgarner had decided to stay with other family members in order to get a ride to work.
Sloan said there were several text messages between Myers and Bumgarner during that time but they seemed to pick up in intensity after he left the residence on Sunday, Dec. 6, after leaving some groceries for the family.
Sloan read from some of the text messages between the two.
“You’ll have nothing to come back to but to corpse. No one cares why should I?” Myers texted her husband. “Money will come and go, once I go there’s no replacing me. I beg and cry for help but never get it. It’s my mental health that needs tending to–help me– I do not care anymore.”
Sloan said there had been no prior treatment for mental illness. He also said there was no history of mistreatment of the children. There were no referrals in connection with Child Protective Services.
Investigators with the state Fire Marshal’s Office said there were too much damage to the old house to tell how the fire began. Shotgun pellets from the 4/10 were found in all five children.
The names of the children murdered include Shaun Dawson Bumgarner, 7, Riley James Bumgarner, 6, Kian Myers, 4, Arikyle Nova Myers, 3 and Haiken Jirachi Myers, age 1.
Myers left behind three hand-written notes and a letter to her husband. Sloan said the three notes were found in a ziplock bag that was duct-taped to the passenger side mirror of the Bumgarner family vehicle that had been disabled in a previous accident. Each note had a title.
To Whomever Finds This First
“To whomever finds this first. You’ll need to call Brian Brian Bumgarner. He is husband and father. You’ll need to call Raven, for she is mother of Shaun and Riley. if someone would please call my mother. Tell her I’m sorry, this is no one’s fault but my own. My demons won over me and there’s no going back. So sorry I wasn’t strong enough. Thank you. XOXO, OAM.”
“I had shot all of the boys in the head. I had set house on fire. I had shot myself in the head. I’m sorry. Mental health is serious. I hope one day someone will help others like me. Mental health is not to joke about or taken lightly. When someone begs, pleads, cries out for help, please help them. You just might save a life or more lives. Thank you, OAM.”
Sheriff Sloan chose not to read the will outloud Thursday. He said it was personal for the family but did include what appeared to be a bloody fingerprint next to the initials of OAM.
The letter to Brian Bumgarner was found on the floorboard of the family vehicle
“XOXO. I’m so sorry Brian. I was not strong enough for you or this family. My head is so (expletive). I’m sorry for my evil crime. I was not strong enough to fight these demons, Snap. Crunch, Boom. So depressed. Heart numb. Soul completely shattered. I am sorry I failed you. I am sorry I failed our handsome boys. I am so sorry I was not strong enough. OAM.”
Sloan said there was also a bloody fingerprint next to Myers’ initials.
The Red Line
Myers was wearing a coat with a hood with a red line drawn across the front of her face, Sloan said.
“Across the bridge of her nose underneath her eyes,” Sloan said.
That line was there when she greeted two of the boys at the bus stop the afternoon of Dec. 8 not long before she set the fire. Sloan said Myers usually brought the younger children to the bus stop with her but did not that day. One of the boys noticed the red line when he stepped off the bus. On the bus video camera you can hear the boy ask if that’s blood on her face. Myers told him she had just drawn on her face and they turned and headed toward the house. The fire would occur a short time later.
Sloan said the investigation has concluded.
“Obviously we can’t determine why Oreanna Myers chose to end the lives of five children and then take her own life. However, through all the facts and evidence obtained during this investigation and all the information that’s been acquired that’s we concluded did occur on Dec. 8, 2020 at 611 Flynns Creek Road,” he said.
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Brad Howe and Julian Edlow from DraftKings look at the upcoming NFL conference championship games from all angles: sides, totals and prop play recommendations for both of this weekend’s games.
The guys also offer up a college basketball play (for Thursday, January 21) and an NBA prop (for Friday, January 22) that is RED HOT.
All of that and more in the latest episode of The Game Within The Game presented by DraftKings.
LONACONING, Md. — Located just minutes from the West Virginia border, a small convenience store in Western Maryland sold one of the largest Powerball jackpot tickets of all-time.
The only winning Powerball ticket for the $731.1 million jackpot that was announced Wednesday was sold at Coney Market in Lonaconing, Maryland, around 14 miles from Keyser. The town has a population of only 1,200.
A Power Play option ticket worth $2 million was also sold in that area of Maryland, at the AC&T #130 in Hagerstown.
Speaking with the Allegany Radio Corporation, Coney Market owner Richard Ravenscroft said he and his employees are still somewhat in shock.
“The lady who took the telephone call still hasn’t sat down. We are all excited about it,” he said.
The store will receive a $100,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket of 40, 53, 60, 68, 69, and power ball 22.
“I am going to figure out how to divide some of it up with the employees and then I have some improvements to do to the store,” Ravenscroft said of the bonus.
He said he does not know the identity of the winner and he described the atmosphere in Lonaconing and Allegany County.
“The people that have heard are all pretty excited of course they all wish it was them and somebody knows I don’t know who it is or where they are from none of that,” Ravenscroft said.
“I wish somebody well whoever won I hope they do good with it.”
It’s been a record week for lottery jackpots. The jackpot hit Wednesday was the fifth largest in US lottery history. The Mega Millions jackpot, worth up to $970 million has its drawing on Friday.
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