West Virginia has had a very challenging few months dealing with the unprecedented health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. There will be more challenges ahead. Fortunately, West Virginians know how to work hard and take care of each other. We will get through this together.

I have seen firsthand the struggles that many of our families and businesses are facing. As your elected representative to the West Virginia House of Delegates, I want to help you.

It has been my pleasure to work with Raleigh County Schools volunteering to use my employment as a bus driver to deliver more than 1,000 meals to Raleigh County students since the crisis began. I’ve worked with local agencies and churches throughout my district to help provide food to other citizens as well. I have worked with the Commission on Aging to get additional services for our senior citizens.

One of the greatest blessings has been unemployment. I have assisted residents who have reached out to me regarding their unemployment benefits. If you need to apply for unemployment or need assistance with your unemployment benefits, please let me know. Is your claim still pending? Have you been approved but haven’t gotten a payment? Are you not receiving the right amount? Let me know, and I will help. If you just want to share feedback regarding your experience with the process, tell me.

COVID-19 has been challenging to our local businesses. Many need assistance and don’t know where to turn. I have linked Raleigh and Wyoming County businesses with the various resources that are available, including the Small Business Administration’s loan program. I’ve steered businesses with state and federal agencies to answer their questions and assist them with questions regarding the new guidelines that have been implemented.

Continuing to help local families, workers and businesses is my top priority. Please do not hesitate to contact me and let me know how I can help you. I will do everything I can to connect you with the local, state and federal officials who have the information and resources you need.

We must also look ahead. We need to figure out how to keep our children safe when they return to school. We need to keep our workers safe on the job. West Virginians shouldn’t have to decide between earning paychecks to feed their families or being exposed to a deadly virus. We need to support our churches, stores, playgrounds and parks and continue to be safe.

Another important part of looking ahead is learning from our immediate past and what has happened and figuring out what we can do better next time. Compared to a lot of states, West Virginia has done an excellent job. We were the first state in the country to require the testing of all residents and staff at nursing homes after learning about the number of cases and deaths in these facilities. This quick action helped save the lives of our seniors and veterans in these homes. As West Virginians we have followed the guidelines, remained at home and stayed the course. But what can we do better? These are the questions that I am asking myself and others in the community and our government agencies. If you have suggestions, please share with me.

We will get through this crisis together through our hard work, our commitment to each other, our communities, and our faith in God.

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:1-2

Please stay safe.

Christopher Toney represents District 31, comprised of precincts in Raleigh and Wyoming counties, in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

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