pandemic

Katie Myers

Jimmy McRoberts knew the North Fork Mobile Home Park was teeming with animals. Some residents, like local grandmother Penny Gozzard, had two or three beloved cats they kept a close eye on; others let their pets roam around and mingle with the neighborhood kids who played around their families’ trailers. So when McRoberts’ entire trailer park was served an eviction notice on March 7, he realized a lot of pets were about to be left behind.

It was a gentle, breezy May evening in the small eastern Kentucky college town of Morehead, Kentucky, when McRoberts told his story outside one of the last trailers in North Fork. By this time, the park was mostly vacated, the high grasses covering left-behind odds and ends, toys and jackets and cigarette packs. Roughly 80 of McRoberts’ neighbors, served with the same eviction notice and a move-out date of April 30, were gone.

 

  

Jessica Coulter

It's nearly race day in Warren County, as dozens of people ages 8-20 in and around southern Kentucky will gather Saturday at Phil Moore Park in Alvaton. They're coming to town for what organizers describe as one of the largest double-elimination soap box derby races in the world.

Everything leading up to the 23rd annual BB&T All-American Soap Box Derby has to be done by the book, including race assignments, inspections, and car impounding prior to race day.

Four class divisions will be competing Saturday: Stock, Super Stock, Masters, and Super Kids. Stock caters to smaller children, while Super Stock and Masters allow for bigger and more experienced racers. The Super Kids race allows for those medically unable to drive on their own to also take part.

For most of the divisions, a win in Bowling Green means getting to compete at the World Chapmionship in Akron, OH. There, former Bowling Green winner and current race organizer Anthony LaPointe, said everybody calls you "champ."


Dan Meyers/Unsplash

A new support group in Henderson is aimed at helping people who have lost a loved one to suicide.

The group’s founder, Cindy Weaver, said it’s called Infinite Hope because people who take their own lives have lost hope. 

Weaver said she’s met many survivors who haven’t sought help for the trauma and grief that followed the death of their friend or family member. 

“We want to be able, through our support groups and walking alongside the survivors to know they don’t have to go through this alone, help to restore hope back into their lives again, so they can move into a life that feels purposeful and has meaning in it once again,” said Weaver.


Jess Clark | WFPL

School districts across Kentucky are trying to decide whether to offer students a chance to repeat the 2020-2021 academic year, to make up for what some parents believe was a period of lost learning due to the pandemic. 

new Kentucky law allows districts to let students in grades K-12 retake a full year of classes, possibly for a better grade. The measure also allows students, including some graduating seniors, to participate in an additional year of athletics. 

Lawmakers left it to individual school districts to decide whether or not to offer the “supplemental school year.” Families must submit their requests to participate by May 1, and districts must decide by June 1 whether to offer the program. Districts can’t pick and choose which requests to grant—if they decide to offer the supplemental school year, they must oblige all who request it.

Apollo High School

Kentucky students involved in the performing arts have been forced into a long and unwelcome intermission during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But theater students at Apollo High School in Daviess County are back on stage in a virtual play being presented this weekend called Everything Seems Like Maybe.  It’s about – what else? – teenagers dealing with the pandemic.

One of those teens offering perspective on living a year alongside the pandemic is Meg Zuberer, a senior at Apollo High.

"The reason I chose this monologue is because I felt like out of them all, it fit me the most," said Zuberer. "During these terrible times, these days of people risking their lives to save others, I find myself questioning the normal. Like why? You know, it’s all made me wonder, 'What do I really want to be doing?' I think the main theme of everything going on right now, I mean when you really boil it down, I think it’s love’.”


Glynis Board I Ohio Valley ReSource

The federal program known as the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) is resuming, and has been extended by the American Rescue Plan Act recently signed into law by President Joe Biden. 

Multiple state organizations report that the extension will significantly help Kentucky families and communities by providing extra nutrition assistance. The help comes at a time when one in four Kentucky children are suffering from food insecurity. 

Some families have already received their P-EBT payments, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Distribution of those payments began on March 15, and will continue through June 25 to cover back payments. The payments will also cover October 2020 through the end of the current school year. 


Adam Schultz

The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to cripple the economy in the Ohio Valley and President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats are pursuing his plan for economic recovery.

Biden’s economic priorities include raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, forgiving student loan debt, and undoing some Trump-era tax cuts. But Biden’s immediate focus is on his “American Rescue Plan” for economic recovery and ending the pandemic. Last month Biden laid out his two-step plan for rescue and recovery. 

“The crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight,” Biden said while giving an address about the plan. “We have to act, and we have to act now.”Regional economists have weighed in on what the Ohio Valley needs and many are in agreement that the region is in need of financial aid, job creation and security, and a national plan to end the pandemic.


NorthStar Online

Terrance D. has been sober for more than 15 years and Narcotics Anonymous has been a big part of his recovery. He uses a pseudonym when speaking publicly about addiction and his work with NA. 

Terrance said the bonds the group has formed are very important, and they were forged through regular social gatherings. 

“We recover in meetings together, we’ve raised our families together, our kids know one another,” he said. “We generally go to eat after meetings, or coffee or other things. We socialize together.”

But last March as the coronavirus pandemic forced businesses and public places to close, the regular face-to-face contact that Terrance and his group depended on was gone.

“All that’s changed, and it was an abrupt change,” he said.

  

Sydney Boles

Stay-at-home mom Sarci Eldridge has a big heart. So when Kentucky entered its second round of restaurant restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, her first thought was for her favorite server, Jessica Carey.

“Me and my mom were talking, and we were just like, you know, we should just get Jessica something to get her through the holidays,” Eldridge said. “Some gift cards and stuff. She has a little boy.”

Carey has been a server and a bartender at Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s in Lexington, Kentucky, for about seven years. She loves the Eldridge family, too. “I was going through a lot of stuff when I met them, and she and [her husband] Nate and her mom were just so sweet to me, and always seemed to know when I needed a hug.”

 

 

Colin Jackson

As COVID-19 cases surges, it's tempting to look back at other epidemics the country has faced, including HIV and AIDS in the 1980s and 90s.

Since COVID-19 is especially dangerous for those with pre-existing conditions, the care HIV and AIDS positive individuals receive is vital. One western Kentucky-based organization is continuing to provide as many services as possible during the pandemic.

In non-pandemic times, Matthew 25 AIDS Services, Inc. health educators LaDeirdre Mumford and Jenika Soni's job would involve going out into the community. Their normal duties range from holding testing events to attending activities like health fairs or even drag shows, and just about everything in between. 


Sydney Boles

A line of blue and yellow pop-up tents stand along the North Fork of the Kentucky River during a sunny September weekend in downtown Whitesburg, Kentucky, and Valerie Horn is doing her part to keep the Letcher County Farmers Market rolling. 

 

Pumpkins and watermelons fill tarps laid out on the ground next to a farmer, and another is offering bottles of maple syrup. As chair of the farmers market, Horn finally has a moment to relax after a busy week leading up to this day. 

“OK, the market’s open, we have good produce, we have customers, we’ve made our invite out, we’ve done what we can do to set up and create a successful market for today,” she said. “Just enjoy seeing who comes by, and stir a little when and if it’s helpful.”

 


J. Tyler Franklin

The Senate is preparing to vote this week on a trimmed-down Republican coronavirus relief package, though it only has a slim chance of passage in the face of Democrats’ insistence for more sweeping aid.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky released the approximately $500 billion measure on Tuesday as senators returned to Washington for an abbreviated pre-election session.

McConnell called the package “a targeted proposal that focuses on several of the most urgent aspects of this crisis." 

“The people who have really been hammered in this pandemic are people who work in the hospitality field for hotels and restaurants," McConnell said during a stop in Bowling Green recently. "Those folks, in the proposal I put together for another round, would get another check for $1,200, to try to lift them.”

Tom Morris

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread anxiety about what used to be common daily activities, like going to the grocery store and getting a haircut.

Now, Bowling Green area residents are using social media to share information about businesses that are using safety precautions, and others that are not following guidelines for masks or social distancing.

The public Facebook group is called 'Safe Places to Patronize in Bowling Green, KY.'

Retired engineer Tom Morris, who created the group,  said it’s grown to more than 2,500 members in two months.

“Actually, it kind of started on a whim," said Morris. "Somebody had posted something about, you know, it would be nice to know where we can go that’s safe. And I said, ‘Well somebody ought to start a Facebook group about safe places to patronize, you know.’ And I said, ‘Well, heck, I’ll start it'."


Colin Jackson

The COVID-19 pandemic means stadiums and ballparks nationwide have been empty since mid-March.

Weeks later, the teams and fans that normally fill those venues are feeling the pain.

Everyone on the Bowling Green Hot Rods roster has been back home since the league suspended spring training. 

To make up for it, team broadcaster Shawn Murnin has been challening players like Chris Betts to play him in MLB The Show live on a Twitch stream.


TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital

Medical professionals are asking people to avoid the emergency room so they don’t overwhelm hospitals, or contract or spread COVID-19. But one Bowling Green cardiologist is finding that some patients are waiting too long.

Dr. Jerry Roy, an interventional cardiologist who is Chest Pain Medical Director at TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital, said he's had several patients who have been afraid to come to the hospital because of fear of contracting COVID-19.

He said those suffering symptoms of stroke or heart attack can’t afford to put off getting help, and delaying treatment for more than a couple of hours can cause permanent damage. For example, if a patient has chest pain and their medicine is not effective at any time, they should immediately seek treatment.