WATCH LIVE: WV Gov. Justice announces ‘ultra mandatory’ mask order, closes school for week after Thanksgiving, moves winter sports season to January

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CHARLESTON, WV — Comparing the more than 240,000-plus COVID-19 deaths in the U.S to the more than 58,000 Americans who were killed in the Vietnam War over 13 years, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said Friday “we have got to realize what we’re dealing with here.”

Following a third day of more than 700 new cases in the state, with a record numbers of residents(339) hospitalized, Gov. Justice announced he will be issuing several executive orders.

Indoor Face Covering Order:

The first, which will go into effect Saturday at midnight, will require that face coverings must be worn indoors in all public buildings at all times. The order does not apply to children under 9 or those with legitimate breathing problems. It also does not apply to restaurants during eating and drinking. The order will be “ultra mandatory,” Justice said.

The governor called upon all owners and managers of businesses to step up and enforce this, or the next step will be that businesses will be shut down, he warned. If people come into a business and refuse to wear a mask, Justice encouraged businesses to call police, describing it as “obstructing justice.”

Earlier Friday, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV called on Gov. Justice to add an enforcement mechanism to the state’s mask order:

“Across West Virginia COVID-19 cases are rising faster than ever before. Public health experts have continued to remind us that wearing a mask is the most commonsense, reasonable way to slow the spread of COVID-19 to protect our family, friends and neighbors during this pandemic without shutting down our economy. I encourage Governor Justice to update his public indoor mask order with an enforcement mechanism. I don’t expect an enforcement mechanism will be popular but clearly what we are currently doing is not enough to slow the spread. If we can’t get our COVID-19 cases under control, our businesses, families and communities will suffer. Properly wearing masks allows us the opportunity to keep our schools and economy open. It’s up to us to take action and do our part to keep our fellow West Virginians safe by wearing a mask in public indoor spaces,” said Manchin.

Thanksgiving School Closure Order:

Citing family holiday gatherings, Justice announced another order that from Thanksgiving Day through Thursday, Dec. 3, no schools in the state, public and private, will be allowed to hold in-person classes.

Winter Sports Season Delay Order:

The governor also announced that winter high school sports seasons will not begin until January 11. Winter recreational, youth, and travel sports, etc, will also be subject to the January 11 date. Fall sports will be allowed to finish their seasons, Justice said.

All band festivals canceled for the rest of the year, Gov. Justice also announced. This is for marching bands and school concert bands.

Watch the briefing in the live player above.

In Gov. Justice’s most recent COVID-19 briefing, He discussed the state of high school sports on Veterans Day.

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