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Health officials urge the use of face masks in public to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Masking Questions: How Pandemic Health Measures Became Politicized

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MURRAY, Ky. (OVR) — Health officials and researchers say the science is clear: face masks can help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Yet in the Ohio Valley, not all elected officials are in agreement on whether to mandate measures such as the use of face masks in public places. In April, Republican Ohio Gov. Mike… Read More

Sherman vs. Lee: How One Man Sparked A Fight To Take Down A Statue  

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Toddlers yelling, running around the hardwood floors and leaving cracker crumbs on the ground. A laptop screen dented by a soup can dropped by a kid. At one point, a room covered from ceiling to floor with hand prints after kids were left alone with a paint can.  But for the moment, Sherman Neal’s kids… Read More

Coronavirus Pandemic

These Three Factors Are Driving Many COVID-19 Outbreaks In Rural Communities

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MURRAY, Ky. (OVR) — As the economies of the Ohio Valley gradually reopen from the pandemic closures, state officials are still reporting hundreds of coronavirus cases each day in the region. In Kentucky, coronavirus cases are again on the rise, with a week-long average of daily cases approaching the highest level yet. Public health officials are concerned… Read More

A warehouse in the Facing Hunger food bank in Huntington, WV.

Ohio Valley Anti-Hunger Advocates Worry Region Overlooked In Over $1 Billion Federal Food Box Program

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MURRAY, Ky. (OVR) — A new federal program is buying more than $1 billion in farm products such as dairy, produce and meat unable to be sold due to the pandemic’s disruptions to the food supply and send “food boxes” to needy families. But some anti-hunger advocates worry that parts of the Ohio Valley may be… Read More

Pandemic Could Make Food Insecurity Worse For Older Adults In Ohio Valley

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A new study shows the Ohio Valley has some of the nation’s highest rates of food insecurity among older adults, and anti-hunger advocates say that situation could be made worse by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Food insecurity refers to the inability to access enough food for a healthy, active lifestyle. The annual… Read More

Chickens are carried through a poultry slaughterhouse on mechanical arms.

“Will It Be Enough?”: Meatpacking Workers Fear for Safety as Coronavirus Cases Mount

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (OVR) — It’s the uncertainty that gets to Darlene Davis. The uncertainty of when she’ll see her 87-year-old mother in person again. The uncertainty of her co-workers’ health. The uncertainty that comes with the novel coronavirus. When a co-worker of hers at the JBS Swift meatpacking plant in Louisville died from COVID-19, she… Read More

A group of pigs

As Trump Orders Meatpackers to Stay Open, Health Department Complaints Allege Louisville Plant Failed to Protect Workers

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (OVR) — As President Trump ordered meatpacking plants on Tuesday to keep operating amid the coronavirus pandemic, more details are emerging about the concerns workers had about their safety at a facility in Louisville, where dozens of workers were infected and one died. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services reported as of Monday,… Read More

SNAP logo

Online SNAP Program Could Increase Food Accessibility in Ohio Valley

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MURRAY, Ky. (OVR) — Kentucky and West Virginia have recently been added to a federal pilot program to allow food stamp recipients to purchase groceries online, and Ohio Valley anti-hunger advocates say it’s a good move to improve food accessibility amid the coronavirus pandemic. The pilot program lets those receiving food assistance through the Supplemental… Read More

A warehouse in the Facing Hunger food bank in Huntington, WV.

Demand Soars at Food Banks While Farmers Have Too Much Food

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MURRAY, Ky. (OVR) — Food banks and pantries across the Ohio Valley are seeing spiked demand as an unprecedented surge of people continue to file for unemployment benefits, with food banks facing weeks long delays to get certain products. Meanwhile, some farmers are facing a financial crisis, sitting on excess food they can’t sell — food… Read More

An illustration of a church

Religious Leaders Adapt Holy Week, Passover Traditions To Pandemic

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Pathway Baptist Church in west Kentucky is trying something a bit different from their usual service. Pastor Mike Donald, standing on a makeshift stage in front of a giant outdoor movie screen, is surrounded by congregation members in cars, honking enthusiastically on just about his every word. It’s Sunday service, but at a drive-in movie… Read More

Chickens are carried through a poultry slaughterhouse on mechanical arms.

Coronavirus Concerns Rise as Ohio Valley Meatpacking Workers Fall Sick

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HINTON, W.Va. (OVR) — As the number of coronavirus cases surge across the country, some meatpacking facilities have been temporarily shuttered due to workers falling ill to the virus. Three workers in Georgia have even died. With workers at some Ohio Valley facilities now testing positive for the virus, worker safety advocates are raising concerns about how… Read More

Rural Hospital Sign

Coronavirus Straining Financial Resources of Ohio Valley Hospitals

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MURRAY, Ky. (OVR) — As coronavirus cases continue to increase throughout the Ohio Valley, rural hospitals are preparing for a potential surge of COVID-19 patients. But as they do so, these hospitals face tough financial decisions, and some could close down altogether. Hospitals throughout the region have had to make brutal financial decisions the past… Read More

Rural Hospital Sign

“We Can’t Get To Everybody”: Hospital Closures, Underfunded Health Centers Hinder Coronavirus Response

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Local public health departments and hospitals are on the front lines of facing the coronavirus throughout the Ohio Valley, yet the health professionals who run these facilities say years of underfunding and hospital closures have diminished these services that now face the crisis. Dan Brown, a former councilman for the riverside village of Bellaire, Ohio,… Read More

Huff (left) and Fuller (right), next to hemp

Over-Hyped Hemp? Amid Price Drop and a Big Bankruptcy, Some Farmers Feel Burned

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John Fuller is waiting for another farmer he’s never met before to talk about a situation he never imagined he would be in. It’s an overcast January day on his farm in west Kentucky, where he grew 18 acres of hemp last year, investing more than $250,000 of his own cash. He’s one of nearly… Read More

A man stands in front of a levee

Rising Waters: Aging Levees, Climate Change And The Challenge To Hold Back The Ohio River

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When 78-year-old Jim Casto looks at the towering floodwalls that line downtown Huntington, West Virginia, he sees a dark history of generations past. The longtime journalist and local historian is short in stature, yet tall in neighborhood tales. On Casto’s hand shines a solid gold ring, signifying his more than 40 years of reporting at… Read More

CBD oil from hemp on the shelves in Winkin’ Sun Hemp Company.

While FDA Warns CBD Companies, Ohio Valley Industry Continues to Grow

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent out 15 letters last week warning some companies that sell cannabidiol, or CBD, about making unfounded medical claims regarding the effects of the hemp-derived compound. Many users claim CBD has a wide range of medicinal benefits but there is little evidence. Despite this warning, the burgeoning industry in the Ohio Valley continues… Read More

Tony Silvernail with a handful of crumbled hemp, on his farm near Frankfort, Kentucky.

Hemp Farmers Form Cooperatives Amid Growth And Uncertainty

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Tony Silvernail swings a heavy machete at a stalk of bushy hemp and chops the plant near the root, grabbing the five-foot-tall shoot with his sun-weathered hand. It’s an unusually hot October day on his farm, Beyond The Bridge LLC, tucked in the hills outside of Frankfort, Kentucky. But the heat doesn’t faze Silvernail, sporting… Read More

Western KY farmer Tom Folz fears a prolonged trade war could push some farmers out of business.

Farmer Fatigue: Farmers Grow Weary Of Trade War, But Most Stick With Trump

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Tom Folz drives around on a sunny, August afternoon and surveys the thousands of acres of dark green, leafy soybean plants and tall stalks of corn he grows on his sprawling farm in Christian County, Kentucky. At 54, Folz has wispy, white hair matching his white mustache. It’s taken him several long work weeks to… Read More

Power Plant: How A Grass Might Generate Fuel And Help Fix Damaged Mine Lands

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Down bumpy back roads deep in central West Virginia, a flat, bright green pasture opens up among the rolling hills of coffee-colored trees. Wildflowers and butterflies dot the pasture, but West Virginia University Professor Jeff Skousen is here for something else that stands above the rest of the Appalachian scenery – literally. Thick stalks of… Read More

SNAP logo

How A Proposed SNAP Eligibility Revision Could Affect Ohio Valley Recipients

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week a proposal to tighten the rules on who qualifies for food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). USDA estimates more than three million people across the country would lose SNAP benefits in an effort to prevent fraud. Anti-hunger advocates in the Ohio Valley say the more than… Read More

Watershed Moment: “Ephemeral” Streams Debate Could Reshape Ohio Valley Waterways

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West Liberty University Professor Zachary Loughman has dedicated his professional life to crustaceans – specifically freshwater crayfish. He dips his hand into one of the water tanks at his laboratory near Wheeling, West Virginia, to pick up a teal crayfish the size of a dollar bill. “See the little guy dropping down? We caught mom… Read More

Farmers, Economists See More Economic Pain From Trump’s Increased Tariffs

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Ohio Valley farmers say the latest tariff escalation between the Trump administration and China could continue to hurt their businesses, with many farmers already facing financial struggles. As Chinese officials visit Washington, D.C., for more trade talks, the Trump administration announced this week increased tariffs, planned to go into effect Friday, on $200 billion dollars worth of Chinese… Read More

Colten Polyniak with hemp

CBD Uncertainty: Sales Soar But Science Lags On Hemp Health Effects

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Inside the Bluegrass Hemp Oil store in Lexington, Kentucky, the CBD oils and lotions lining the walls have an origin story — a story of a family’s struggle. “We took a huge risk, to be perfectly honest, because we didn’t know. We weren’t trying other people’s CBD products that were out there,” Bluegrass Hemp Oil… Read More

As Some Midwest Farmers Struggle With Historic Flooding, Ohio Valley Ethanol Producers See Profit Boost

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Mick Henderson runs the Commonwealth Agri-Energy ethanol plant in west Kentucky. He said the past year for U.S. ethanol producers, including in the Ohio Valley, has been rough. “We’ve just passed our 15th anniversary just now, and this is going to be one of our weakest years,” Henderson said. Ethanol prices have been down the… Read More