- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

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March 25

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph on Gov. Jim Justice’s “stay at home” order:

It’s now official. Governor Jim Justice has issued a “Stay at Home” order for the Mountain State. The order, which is designed to further combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, directs all West Virginia residents to stay at home and to limit their movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs.



The new rule took effect at 8 p.m. on March 24, and will remain in effect until further notice.

Area residents, particularly those young people who are still congregating in large groups, need to take this order seriously. Now is not the time for horseplay and youthful disobedience.

With the Stay at Home order in place, West Virginians can still:

- Go to the grocery, convenience, or warehouse store.

- Go to the pharmacy to pick up medications and other healthcare necessities.

- Go to medical appointments (but check with your doctor or provider first).

- Go to a restaurant for take-out, delivery or drive-thru.

- Care for or support a friend or family member.

- Take a walk, ride your bike, hike, jog, and be in nature for exercise – just keep at least six feet between you and others.

- Help someone to get necessary supplies.

However, the order states that West Virginians should not:

- Go to work unless you are providing essential services or work for an essential business as defined by the order.

- Visit friends and family if there is no urgent need.

- Maintain less than six feet of distance from others when you go out.

- Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other.

Neighboring Virginia has not yet issued a “Stay at Home” order, but the same rules generally apply. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has already canceled school for the remainder of the school year, and has ordered the closure of certain non-essential businesses, including theaters, performing arts centers, museums, indoor entertainment centers, fitness centers, gymnasiums, beauty salons and barber shops .

Virginia also is banning gatherings of 10 people or more. This does not include gatherings that involve the provision of health care or medical services, access to essential services for low-income residents, such as food banks; operations of the media; law enforcement agencies; or operations of government.

All area residents - young people in particular - are expected to follow these new rules.

If we are to overcome this unprecedented threat to public health, we must all practice social distancing. And we should try to stay at home, unless it is absolutely necessary to venture out to purchase essential supplies, like food and medicine.

We must be willing to make personal sacrifices now to ensure the health of our family, friends and neighbors.

Online: https://www.bdtonline.com

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March 24

The Martinsburg Journal on ethics laws and recent allegations of insider trading by U.S. senators:

Millions of dollars in stock transactions on behalf of five U.S. senators have raised serious questions about their ethics - and whether they broke laws against insider trading.

Clearly, the matter needs to be investigated, but not as a witch hunt with the preconceived notion that someone must be guilty of wrongdoing. If the senators did what they are being accused by some of doing - using information about COVID-19 they received because of their positions to profit or avoid stock market losses - the very minimum punishment ought to be removal from office. Much preferred would be prosecution.

And if these five in the U.S. Senate engaged in insider trading, it has to be supposed there are others in government, perhaps in both the legislative and executive branches, who did the same thing. That, too, needs to be investigated as soon as possible.

Details of the five situations vary greatly. They involve Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; James Inhofe, R-Okla.; Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga.; and David Perdue, R-Ga.

Burr and Loeffler were the first to be accused after reporters examined Senate financial reports. They found that Burr sold as much as $1.7 million in stocks in late January and mid-February - just before stock markets around the world began steep dives. Burr insists he made decisions based solely on “public news reports.”

Loeffler tells a different story, that she has no involvement in how investments on behalf of her and her husband are handled. They are “made by multiple third-party advisers without my or my husband’s knowledge or involvement,” she insisted in a statement released via Twitter.

Inhofe and Perdue have made similar statements. Feinstein says her husband makes investment decisions, in which she takes no part.

Where it can be proven lawmakers had nothing to do with stock market decisions, they are blameless. But where they and/or family members handle investments, timing is everything. If beneficial stock sales or purchases were made before there was public knowledge of what the senators knew, there may well be culpability. Again, if that is established, the lawmakers - and any others who engaged in insider trading - must be punished.

Online: https://www.journal-news.net

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March 23

The Gazette-Mail on Gov. Jim Justice’s recent address to state citizens:

These are unprecedented times, and leaders are going to process information and handle the situation surrounding the coronavirus differently. Gov. Jim Justice probably had good intentions when he addressed the state on March 21. He was trying to emphasize adhering to safety guidelines from health experts concerning the coronavirus, and implying more drastic measures would be taken if those guidelines weren’t followed. We think.

Justice ended a press conference on March 20 saying he wouldn’t be appearing over the weekend unless there were major developments to discuss. Naturally, many were then alarmed when the governor announced he would be speaking at 7 p.m. the next day.

There was no major announcement or update. Just a stream of consciousness delivery from the governor, with asides like one insisting if he didn’t appear on television, thousands of lives would be lost, or references to New York state not acting quickly enough to lock itself down - something Justice wasn’t recommending for West Virginia, but had decided to do by March 23.

Justice’s off-the-cuff style has worked for him before, but it’s not the best strategy here. March 21’s ramble did little to assuage any fears about the pandemic.

He attempted to explain his reasons for the address during a much more organized, informative news conference March 23, but didn’t offer real clarity.

West Virginians shouldn’t be fearful, but they should be concerned. They should follow the guidelines from health professionals (staying home as much as possible, frequent hand washing and staying away from large gatherings of more than 10 people, etc.), which is something Justice reiterated on March 21. No one should panic.

But the governor appearing on television - after prefacing he would only do so if there were major developments - then engaging in word salad certainly, if not intentionally, seemed to veer toward inciting panic. That isn’t the calm hand of leadership that is needed. It’s apparent the governor thought he needed to say something - and there’s nothing wrong with that, if there is something to say.

Justice talks about being a leader - how, in fact, he wants to be a “coach” for the state of West Virginia. But there’s talking about it and actually doing it. An event like the COVID-19 outbreak is a time for leaders to rise and take the helm. The governor seems overwhelmed. He should take the time to assess what needs to be said and when. The difference was all that more apparent on March 23, when there was new information to impart.

Online: https://www.wvgazettemail.com

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