Becca Schimmel

Multimedia Journalist

Becca Schimmel is a multimedia journalist with the Ohio Valley ReSource a collaborative of public radio stations in Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio.  She's based out of the WKU Public Radio newsroom in Bowling Green. 

Becca was born in Charleston, SC but grew up in Lexington, Kentucky. You can often find her behind a book or near a cup of coffee. 

Becca earned her Bachelor of Science in journalism from Murray State University with a minor in psychology. She interned with The Paducah Sun in Paducah as a general assignment reporter. From there she went on to become Morning Edition producer and general assignment reporter for WKMS in Murray.

Becca Schimmel

Businesses in Kentucky and throughout the country continue to walk a fine line when it comes to welcoming customers, while also enforcing state and local coronavirus guidelines such as the wearing of face masks.

 

New restrictions and requirements at the Community Farmers Market in Bowling Green so far haven’t hurt direct-to-consumer sales. On a recent weekday, vendors could be seen from the road wearing masks and talking to customers about their fresh fruits and vegetables. 

 

Many of the stands would normally be inside, but because of the pandemic, tents have been set up outside to spread people around and encourage social distancing. Nathan Howell is a co-founder of the Bowling Green Community Farmer’s Market and a vendor with Need More Acres farm in Scottsville.  


submitted by Justin Shepherd

Some local businesses in Kentucky are finding the statewide face-covering mandate easy to enforce because they already had a similar policy in place. Spencer’s Coffee in Bowling Green, Ky., has been requesting customers wear face-masks since the early days of the pandemic. 

Governor Andy Beshear issued an executive order last week requiring Kentuckians to wear face masks in situations where they can’t keep six feet of social distance from other people. 

Justin Shepherd, owner of Spencer’s Coffee, said the Beshear’s mandate makes the coffeshop's policy on face masks easier to enforce. 

bgky.org

Kentucky is finishing up the final phases of reopening its economy with bars, public swimming pools, and event spaces allowed to reopen at half capacity Monday.

However, not everyone is rushing to open their doors to the public.

Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Director Brent Belcher said the Russell Sims Aquatic Center will not be reopening anytime soon. He said in a normal year over 75,000 people attend events and go swimming at the facility.

“So in other words, we have more than 1,000 people that attend a day. To get that down to a couple hundred people is not conceivable to us,” he said. 

WFPL news

For many in the Ohio Valley, voting is a choice, a right they are free to exercise if they want to. But for Jackie McGranahan and the more than 175,000 other formerly disenfranchised Kentuckians, this primary election is special. It’s her first chance to vote since 2008. 

She won't be going to a voting booth. Elections are a bit different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and most voting in Kentucky is happening by mail. But even though she couldn’t go to the polls with her friends or be handed her ‘I Voted’ sticker, that didn’t stop McGranahan from savoring the moment of voting.

“I filled out the absentee ballot. I signed my name and I waited for my postman to come so I could hand it to him directly from my porch to know that my vote will be counted, that I have a voice,” McGranahan said.


Becca Schimmel

A crowd gathered in Bowling Green Friday to rally for racial equality and police accountability. The march was organized by the BG Freedom Walkers, a new community organization that has only existed for about a week. It was started by a group of friends and like-minded people who wanted to do something in response to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor being killed by police. 

Floyd died in Minneapolis after a police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. Breonna Taylor was shot several times by Louisville Metro Police Officers who executed a no-knock warrant on her home. 

Hundreds of people came to the protest with homemade signs and marched from Circus Square Park to the Warren County Justice Center. 

istockphoto

As the Ohio Valley continues its phased-in reopening, unemployment insurance claims are down slightly compared to the week before. The region is still reporting high levels of unemployment assistance applications.

At least 82,011 people in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia joined those seeking help during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The data released Thursday morning by the U.S. Department of Labor shows about 1.8 million unemployment claims around the country for the week ending May 30, bringing the country’s total jobless applicants to almost 42 million since mid-March. 

Becca Schimmel

More than 100 people gathered and marched in downtown Bowling Green Monday, to protest police brutality and racial inequality. It marks the fourth day of protests, organized by different groups and individuals. 

Protestors walked from the Warren County Justice Center to city police headquarters, where the speeches and chants focused on police brutality. Marchers displayed 'Black Lives Matter' signs, although the event was not organized by that group. Other displays had the names of black people who have died in police custody. 

Throughout the marching, protestors remained peaceful, and there was no police presence during the event. 

Becca Schimmel

Nearly 200 people gathered in downtown Bowling Green Saturday to march from Circus Square Park to the Warren County Justice Center.  

There were signs in memory of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed in her home after the Louisville Metro Police Department carried out a no-knock warrant. 

 

Bowling Green protestors also had signs in support of Black Lives Matter and spoke about the importance of voting.

Becca Schimmel

As some businesses in the Ohio Valley reopen and welcome back both customers and employees the region continues reporting high levels of unemployment claims. 

At least 100,863 people in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia joined those seeking help during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia are making progress on unemployment claims filed in March as states begin a phased-in reopening. 

WFPL news

Kentucky’s primary was moved to June 23 from its original date on May 19 due to safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. For the primary, the state has also expanded to all registered voters the option of absentee voting, which was previously only allowed for a few reasons, such as military deployment, disability, or temporary residence out of the state. 

Because many residents will be voting by mail, it’s important to remember ballots must be received by county clerks by the time polls close at 6:00 p.m. local time on Election Day.

So, just to be clear, that means you must mail (or hand deliver) your ballot in time for it to arrive in the county clerk’s office by 6:00 p.m. local time on June 23 for the ballot to be counted.

Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

Indoor dining at restaurants across the Ohio Valley is “reopening” under new guidelines. Kentucky, and West Virginia are requiring these businesses to at least temporarily reduce maximum occupancy, among other social distancing recommendations. 

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has set out the most stringent requirements and suggestions for food service of the three states. Restaurants in Kentucky cannot exceed 33 percent of their maximum occupancy. Additionally,  Beshear has suggested that people not living in the same household should not be permitted to sit at the same table.

Kentucky Restaurant Association President Stacy Roof said requiring reduced capacity is a challenge, and places with outdoor seating will have an easier time than those without it. 


http://www.warrencountyky.gov

Kentucky funeral homes and memorial services can increase capacity Wednesday, after limiting services to 10 people or less due to the coronavirus pandemic. Those facilities will now be allowed to operate at 33% of the building’s occupancy.

Kevin Kirby is the owner of JC Kirby and Son Funeral Chapel in Bowling Green, and the Warren County Coroner.  

He said he’s offering families the option to have a memorial service later when more people would be able to attend. 

“And there are several families that opted for that. Then there are a lot of families that said ‘no, we don’t want to do that because we don’t want to go through it a second time,'” he said.


Becca Schimmel

Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia are making progress on unemployment claims filed in March as states begin a phased-in reopening. 

New unemployment insurance claims are still reaching unprecedented levels across the Ohio Valley region.

 

At least 125,459 people in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia joined those seeking help during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. That surge in claims is in addition to the more than two million unemployment assistance applications people in the Ohio Valley made since mid-March. 

City of Bowling Green

Warren County has become a hot spot for COVID-19 at the same time the state is working on a phased-in reopening of the economy. The county has 709 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Wednesday evening.

The Bowling Green coronavirus task force believes there are a couple of reasons for the increase. Warren County is administering more coronavirus tests, and it has increased locations for the screening of the virus. Brian “Slim” Nash is a Bowling Green City Commissioner and member of the local coronavirus task force.


U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

An analysis by Harvard scientists and NPR finds that most states —  including Kentucky and Ohio — are not testing enough residents for coronavirus in order to meet recommended benchmarks to safely begin to reopen their economies. 

That analysis by Harvard’s Global Health Institute found that West Virginia is roughly meeting the minimum targets for coronavirus testing, while Kentucky and Ohio lag behind the recommended testing levels. Data on Kentucky and Ohio also show other indications that more testing is needed.


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