Editorial Roundup: West Virginia

The Intelligencer. June 29, 2022.

Editorial: Filling Shortages In Nursing Ranks

Workforce challenges have hit just about every industry in West Virginia, though some have been feeling the pinch for longer than others. It was necessary years ago to start looking for solutions in the field of nursing. Efforts have been under way here to attract, retain, educate and support nurses, and it seems as though some are bearing fruit.

West Virginia’s Center for Nursing released its 2021 data to provide “the public and stakeholders with vital information about the current state of the nursing workforce in West Virginia and offers areas where we can improve,” according to Gerald Bragg, chair of the West Virginia Center for Nursing’s board.

From 2020-21, the number of registered nurses working here increased by 2%. According to the Center for Nursing, that means efforts to expand nursing programs, recruit out-of-state nurses and help those with lapsed licenses to re-enter the field are working.

Meanwhile, during the same period, the number of RNs and advanced practiced registered nurses under the age of 50 increased, as well. New nurses are entering the workforce.

But there is still a problem. More than 13.6% of nurses licensed in the Mountain State are instead working in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky and Maryland.

This means, “The state should consider additional ways to retain nurses in West Virginia and recruit out-of-state nurses who are already licensed in West Virginia to join the state’s nursing workforce,” according to the Center for Nursing.

We are making progress. There is proof that efforts to tackle some aspects of the shortage have been effective. Officials should heed the advice of the Center for Nursing and get to work on convincing some of those licensed to work here to do so. It is likely the most difficult part of the challenge, but one that must be addressed.

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Parkersburg News and Sentinel. June 28, 2022.

Editorial: Broadband: Fix speed along with access

There’s a lot of talk lately about bringing broadband internet access to West Virginians. West Virginia’s Department of Economic Development says it is bringing quality broadband internet to hundreds of thousands of homes in the state. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin rightly wants us to have a sense of urgency in getting this done similar to that of bringing electricity to homes in the 1930s.

It’s a big deal. But according to hotdog.com (a website dedicated to being a “cord-cutting resource,” and which therefore promotes the adoption of internet streaming services), West Virginians who do have internet access have the slowest internet in the country.

Yep. We’re dead last there, too. Our internet service is on average 49% slower than the national average. Our average download speed is 60.7 megabytes per second (mbps); the national average is 119.0 mbps. Only 64.3% of Mountain State households have broadband internet; and only 68.6% have a desktop or laptop computer.

According to the latest census data, there are 734,235 households in West Virginia. Officials who find themselves inundated with federal money to do so cannot move quickly enough in getting quality broadband internet access to the hundreds of thousands who do not have it. But they must also ensure companies are doing right by the rest — some of whom are being told they have “quality” internet access, but in reality deal with outages and slowdowns the likes of which make it impossible to work or learn remotely.

Remember, we’re trying to attract and retain employers and residents in an era where quality, reliable high-speed internet access truly is a necessity. Having, on average, the slowest internet in the country is not going to do that.

There is no room for error in correcting this shortfall, now.

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Bluefield Daily Telegraph. June 28, 2022.

Editorial: Be careful: Scammers aren’t slowing down

Given the plethora of scams out there, it’s easy to become paranoid when your phone rings or dings to alert you of a new email or text message.

Is it a text message or email from a legitimate source or a scammer trying to steal your personal information? What about the person calling you on the phone? Is it a legitimate call or a scammer pretending to represent a company or government agency?

In West Virginia, officials have seen an increase in scammers using robocalls to target state residents, according to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. He says scammers often use legitimate phone numbers to make incessant robocalls that swindle consumers out of their hard-earned money.

“Consumers need to keep their guard up and stay alert if they receive a suspicious call,” Morrisey said. “Remember, don’t panic, and don’t give away any personal information. Our office remains committed to making progress in combating unlawful robocalls, and we will continue to fight these illegal and obnoxious scam calls.”

If you receive a scam call, Morrisey recommends the following steps:

• Hang up. Ending the conversation is the quickest way to stop a scam.

• Verify the call. If the caller claims to represent a particular government agency, hang up and call the main number for the legitimate agency to see if that agency was trying to reach you.

• Don’t trust your caller ID. Scammers have been known to falsify or “spoof” calls to make them appear to come from a legitimate source.

• Don’t give in to the scammer. Scammers are hoping consumers will panic and surrender the information or money they are asking for out of fear.

• Report the scam.

Morrisey says consumers are urged to never share personally identifiable, financial and otherwise sensitive information without verifying the legitimacy of the recipient. The same goes for never agreeing to send cash, wire money or provide numbers associated with a credit/debit card or bank account.

Anyone with questions or who believes they may have been a victim of a scam should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.

We should all be careful when responding to an unsolicited call, text or email. Be mindful of the fact that there are scammers out there who are trying to steal our personal information.

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