Bluefield Daily Telegraph. November 30, 2022.
Editorial: Broadband coverage: Residents urged to check accuracy of new maps
As residents of the deep south counties already know, broadband service can be spotty — and even at times non-existent — depending upon where you live.
Getting high-speed broadband service to more families and businesses in need has been a priority of lawmakers for sometime now.
That’s why it is important to note that a draft of the long-awaited update of federal mapping of broadband coverage around the country has been released by the Federal Communications Commission.
We are, of course, interested in the maps for West Virginia and Virginia.
Area lawmakers, including U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., are urging residents of the Mountain State to look at the West Virginia map to make sure it is accurate.
The coverage maps were released earlier this month, and Capito says she has concerns with “how they represent West Virginia’s coverage.” She wants area residents to check out the FCC maps to make sure their address is accurately represented.
“These maps, which I have long advocated and also provided funds for, will ultimately play a critical role in our efforts to bridge the digital divide, which is why I will be continuing to work with the FCC to see that West Virginians are accurately represented on these maps,” Capito said last week.
Area residents can view the FCC National Broadband Map online at broadbandmap.fcc.gov/home#/.
Once you are on the website, you can then enter your address and the map shows if there is any coverage available at the address and the speed if it is available.
Both Capito and Manchin have pushed for more broadband coverage for many years, and the Broadband DATA Act was signed into law in 2020. It includes several provisions Capito, who is a member of both the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Commerce Committee, authored and were part of her Broadband Data Improvement Act, which she introduced in May 2019.
Manchin has also urged the FCC to update its incorrect broadband coverage maps that determine how millions of dollars in funding to expand reliable, affordable broadband coverage for Americans and West Virginians is allocated.
However, to ensure the accuracy of the broadband maps, area residents need to go online and make sure their coverage is accurately represented.
“I encourage every West Virginian to check their coverage on the FCC’s updated map and submit a challenge if it is wrong before Jan. 13,” Manchin said. “Thanks to my provision in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, these updated maps will provide the basis for billions of dollars in infrastructure funding to ensure every American and West Virginian gets reliable, affordable broadband access, but they will only be as accurate as the input they receive from states, communities, and consumers.”
Capito said lawmakers frequently hear concerns from constituents about no service, poor service and sudden disconnects.
“This will help show where the problems are,” Capito said, adding a map should include exactly where broadband expansion and enhancement are needed the most. “We have to get the mapping right.”
She’s correct. Area residents can help ensure the accuracy of the new broadband maps by checking their coverage online. It takes only a few minutes and will help in ensuring that the high-speed service is deployed to all communities in our region still in need of broadband connections.
The Intelligencer. November 30, 2022.
Editorial: Time To Improve Health in West Virginia
If you are still dealing with the effects of a massive holiday dinner, followed by a few days of leftovers and lots of couch time for football, you may be feeling a bit unhealthy at the moment.
It won’t be a surprise to learn yet another study finds West Virginians are the unhealthiest in the country. Total Shape looked at data on online searches for gym memberships, number of gyms per 100,000 people, how many fast food restaurants there are per 100,000 people, the percentage of adult smokers and obesity rate.
Here in the Mountain State we have the lowest number of gyms per 100,000 people with only 8, while also having the highest percentage of smokers with 24% and the second highest obesity rate at 40%. There are 77 fast food restaurants per 100,000 people — three higher than the national average of 74.
Of course those numbers are just the start. We also have high rates of cancer, heart disease, respiratory illnesses, diabetes and substance abuse.
Numbers don’t tell the whole story. One does not need a gym membership to exercise. Our wild and wonderful natural areas give us plenty of opportunity to burn calories and be strong working and playing outdoors.
Certainly it is a problem that fast food is sometimes a cost-effective choice for those living in places where healthy, fresh food is difficult to find. It would be nice to believe public officials and economic development types were boosting communities in a way that invited healthier and more inexpensive grocery options.
It’s time for a change — and it’s something that’s in our control. The holiday season provides both the opportunity to think about giving ourselves the gift of striving to be healthier and the tradition of New Year’s resolutions to help.
Whatever excuse you use, take better care of yourself — not just for your own sake, but for those counting on you.
Parkersburg News and Sentinel. November 23, 2022.
Editorial: Health: Spread cheer, not germs this holiday
Tis the season for the spread of germs; and for some of our littlest Mountaineers, that can get pretty rough. In fact, according to West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch, health officials are keeping an eye on the number of pediatric hospital beds available in the state.
COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus are affecting kids who are also, of course, fighting off the usual colds and bugs that float around this time of year, Crouch told WV News.
Earlier this month, the state had its first reported influenza-associated pediatric death of the 2022-23 flu season. In addition to that tragedy, the number of cases requiring hospitalization is becoming a concern.
“Pediatric beds are still out there,” Crouch told WV News. “We have a couple of hospitals that are staying at capacity.”
As the first round of holiday gatherings is upon us, families will be sharing more than old stories. Flu season will get into full swing.
“We haven’t really hit the full flu season. West Virginia, as usual, lags a little bit behind what the rest of the country does,” Crouch said. “So we’re concerned. We’re tracking that. We’re looking at supply chains and trying to make sure hospitals have what they need.”
There are, of course, vaccines available for both influenza and COVID-19. We all know that by now. We also know how to stem the spread of germs by washing and sanitizing our hands, staying distanced and staying home when we are ill. That last bit is a little harder this time of year, particularly for kids who are excited about the food, family and festivities.
It is up to us as adults to make the right decision on that front, and enforce it. (On the other hand, it is also up to us as adults to be understanding when family members say they can’t make it to an event because there is illness in the household.)
Don’t be careless when it comes to the health of your child or vulnerable loved ones for whom exposure might be dangerous. Spread gratitude and joy this season, not sickness and misery.