HUNTINGTON — No one will be getting pulled over in Ohio if they are on the road after the state’s new 10 p.m. curfew.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said the intent of his 21-day curfew — which began Thursday night in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and does not prohibit anyone from going to work, getting food to-go or from a drive-thru, or going to the hospital — is not to have police officers pulling over cars, but they will be watching bars and restaurants. And if they happen to see a large gathering happening while out on patrol, they could tell everyone to go home.
“What we are looking for is to set a bar, and I think Ohioans understand the gravity of the situation that we’re in,” he said.
DeWine and health experts continued to stress the need for personal responsibility. The state’s new Retail Compliance Unit has visited half the counties in the state and has seen 90% compliance. The problem, he said, is what people do in their own homes.
“Figure out in your life what you can do to reduce your interaction with other people. If you do that, plus the other things we’ve set out, we’re really going to knock this virus out,” he said.
There were 7,787 new positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Ohio on Thursday, for a total of 326,615, and Franklin County became the first county to turn purple on the state’s health alert map, signaling that the county is experiencing “severe exposure and spread” and that residents should “only leave home for supplies and services.”
The state has reported 5,890 deaths related to the virus.
In Lawrence County, the health department reported two new virus-related deaths in the county, for a total of 37, and 49 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 1,898. Patients’ ages ranged from 7 to 78.
Kentucky recorded a new daily positive case record with 3,649 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 148,390, and 30 new deaths. There are 112 counties in the red zone of the state’s health alert map, which signals a critical incidence rate of COVID-19.
The new cases included 177 positive cases in Boyd County, 133 of which were from the Federal Correctional Institution Ashland, according to the Ashland-Boyd County Health Department.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear stressed the importance of following the new guidelines imposed this week, including the closure of indoor dining and reduced capacity at places like gyms. He said those who knew Alexa Rose Veit, a 15-year-old among the dead reported Wednesday, asked that he stress how deadly the virus can be and how important it is to follow the guidelines.
Veit, who had Down syndrome, was a freshman at Ballard Memorial High School in LaCenter, Kentucky. In July 2019, she was diagnosed with leukemia. But, Beshear said, as with everything in her life, Veit was determined to overcome the challenge.
“This fall she was in remission on day 30 of a two-year treatment plan,” Beshear said. “But the week of Halloween this year, Alexa started feeling sick. She tested positive for COVID-19 and managed the first few days at home before being taken to the hospital.”
West Virginia recorded 1,122 new positive cases of COVID-19, for a total of 37,399, and 11 new deaths, including an 87-year-old woman from Cabell County, the 47th virus-related death for Cabell.
Other deaths reported Thursday were a 70-year-old man from Harrison County, 68-year-old man from Berkeley County, 75-year-old man from Ohio County, 74-year-old man from Marshall County, 82-year-old man from Kanawha County, 63-year-old woman from Tyler County, 92-year-old woman from Marshall County, 85-year-old man from Kanawha County, 64-year-old man from Wood County and 62-year-old man from Kanawha County.
There have been 623 deaths in the state related to the virus.
Total cases by county are: Barbour (298), Berkeley (2,440), Boone (553), Braxton (98), Brooke (455), Cabell (2,349), Calhoun (49), Clay (100), Doddridge (95), Fayette (997), Gilmer (180), Grant (264), Greenbrier (344), Hampshire (242), Hancock (459), Hardy (177), Harrison (977), Jackson (620), Jefferson (1,060), Kanawha (4,934), Lewis (215), Lincoln (371), Logan (958), Marion (653), Marshall (911), Mason (290), McDowell (537), Mercer (1,125), Mineral (781), Mingo (873), Monongalia (2,905), Monroe (310), Morgan (219), Nicholas (281), Ohio (1,182), Pendleton (88), Pleasants (65), Pocahontas (84), Preston (405), Putnam (1,504), Raleigh (1,301), Randolph (592), Ritchie (106), Roane (141), Summers (232), Taylor (235), Tucker (91), Tyler (115), Upshur (397), Wayne (863), Webster (51), Wetzel (352), Wirt (73), Wood (1,843) and Wyoming (559).
There were 855 active cases in Cabell County on Thursday, while there were 174 active cases in Wayne County.
More than 165,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported across the U.S. on Thursday, for a total of 11,465,722, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency has reported 249,670 deaths related to the virus.
HUNTINGTON — In Huntington, anything can be art, including a power substation full of unsightly wires and towers buzzing along with the hustle and bustle of the city.
Surrounding the station is a fence of metal panels, each connected by brick columns.
The Huntington Museum of Art, however, has taken on the task of creating a sight more pleasant to the eyes.
While the museum previously painted the bland panels with bright shades of red, blue, green and yellow, on Thursday a ceramic art installation — Rails River Roots, designed by at-risk youths — was added, making it more personalized.
Kathleen Kneafsey, the museum’s artist-in-residence, said the pieces are the result of two years of work through the museum’s ArtWorks! program, created more than 20 years ago as an outreach to at-risk youths.
Many pieces of art from the program can be found around Huntington, but this one can be credited to children in the Pressley Ridge program, who in 2017 and 2018 participated in a six-week winter program in which they were told history about Huntington and taken around the city to learn about it firsthand.
Kneafsey said she knew the project was going to have to do with American Electric Power and the spot adjacent to Heritage Station, but it was the kids who came up with the idea.
The first group created four big clay panels about 4 feet tall and up to 6 feet wide that depict different themes of Huntington, including railroads, the river, its buildings and brick streets and more.
The second group did smaller “tiles,” which surround more of the fence line and bring the panels together.
This week, AEP employees helped hang the pieces, some of which are drilled into the fence and hang by steel.
Kneafsey said the combination of the brick columns, the color of the fence panels and clay make a nice combination that pops.
“It’s good to have a positive thing that celebrates what many of us love, so many things about this city,” she said. “I hope the kids will have an opportunity to come check it out. I hope they have been successful and are happy and can come check it out.”
Kneafsey said the project would not have been possible without the help from AEP and the Huntington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
HUNTINGTON — Karen Thomas says for the past eight years she has traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to celebrate Thanksgiving with family.
“My son and I are not going to go this year because of the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.
Thomas, of Huntington, was coming out of Sheetz in downtown Huntington when asked about her holiday travel plans for Thanksgiving.
“We are just going to have something small at our home,” she said.
Thomas will not be the only one staying home.
“Like everything else this year, Thanksgiving in 2020 will look much different than in years past,” Bevi Powell, senior vice president with AAA Travel, said in an email. “Many Americans are weighing their options and considering the advice of health experts before finalizing their holiday travel plans.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans on Thursday not to travel for Thanksgiving, citing rises in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Jeff Miller, executive director of the West Virginia Parkways Authority, said the Thanksgiving holiday is normally one of the busiest travel times of the year on the West Virginia Turnpike.
“Last year, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving we had approximately 160,000 vehicles pass through the tolls, and the Sunday after we had approximately 168,000,” Miller said. “For the year, we are down around 10% overall in our cumulative average.”
But Miller says looking at current trends, he expects Thanksgiving travel to be down around 2% to 3% from the previous year.
“It’s been hard to do a forecast or give any estimates of how much traffic there will be this year,” he said. “We have been keeping our eye on AAA Travel’s forecast. It is normally pretty close to what we project.”
Miller cautioned motorists traveling the Turnpike for the holiday to be aware of a widening project taking place in both the northbound and southbound lanes between mile markers 40 and 48 in Beckley.
“We have a lane shift from the outside lanes to the inside lane in an active construction zone with a speed limit of 55 mph,” he said. “That may slow things down a little bit, but we are urging motorists to remember this is an active construction zone, so slow down and obey the speed limit.”
Though holiday travel will be down this year due to the pandemic, according to AAA Travel’s forecast, 50 million Americans are still expected to travel this Thanksgiving.
“The effects of the pandemic, including health and economic concerns, are causing many Americans to opt for last-minute and vehicular travel,” Powell added.
Air travel and other modes of transportation such as cruises, buses and trains are the most impacted by the pandemic, and 95% of holiday travel is expected to be by car, according to the forecast.
For those traveling by car, the average price of gasoline across West Virginia is 5 cents higher this week at $2.156 per gallon, according to AAA East Central’s Gas Price Report.
A new national survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) shows that many Americans are not expected to travel this holiday season.
Results show that 72% of Americans are unlikely to travel for Thanksgiving and 69% are unlikely to travel for Christmas, compounding the challenges for the hotel industry during this public health crisis.
Business travel has been even more impacted. Eight percent of Americans say they have taken an overnight business trip since March, and 19% of respondents who are currently employed — or 8% of all adults — expect to travel for business within the next six months.
“This holiday season will be an especially difficult time for all Americans, and our industry is no exception,” Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, said in an email. “Fewer people will be traveling and business travel remains nearly nonexistent. For those who are considering traveling for the holidays, hotels will be ready to welcome you. Through our Safe Stay initiative, hotels have enhanced our already rigorous cleaning protocols to be more transparent and give travelers even more peace of mind.”
Travel spending in the U.S. is expected to finish the year 45% down from 2019 levels, and will still not have returned to its pre-pandemic strength by 2024, according to the latest figures released by the U.S. Travel Association.
The new 2020 projected travel spending figure of $617 billion is slightly worse than U.S. Travel’s previous forecast released in July of $622 billion, and is a drop from the $1.13 trillion spent on travel in the U.S. overall in 2019.