Gov. Justice and state officials provide an update for media on COVID-19 preparedness and response plans. For more information about COVID-19 prevention and more, call the State’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-887-4304 or visit Coronavirus.wv.gov.
Gov. Jim Justice announced the latest COVID-19 deaths in West Virginia over the weekend were related to the church outbreak in Greenbrier County. He offered condolences to the families.
West Virginians are now mandated to wear a face covering in buildings where they cannot social distance properly. The Governor made the decision on Monday, June 6, 2020. The executive order was signed to go into effect at midnight between July 6 and July 7.
This mask requirement does not apply to children under the age of 9-years-old or anyone who has trouble breathing or is otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
During his briefing the Governor compared the situation to what was happening in Texas. This was based on a percentage of population basis.
“If you don’t decide to wear the face covering for yourself. If you don’t decide to do it for your friends and family. Do it for the 95 people who have died,” said Gov. Justice.
The Department of Homeland Security advised the Governor on some legal aspects of the mask requirement. This was researched after questions were raised about concealed firearms. The Governor’s counsel Brian Abraham stated there is no penalty regarding wearing a mask while carrying a concealed firearm. This is covered under state law by the provision for civil emergencies.
Dr. Clay Marsh stated West Virginia is now showing the seventh highest R-T percentage in the nation. Current numbers are the worst the state has seen since the pandemic began, Dr. Marsh stated. He quoted a recent journal article stated masks reduce the spread of the droplets which carry the COVID-19 virus.
Those who cannot wear a mask could wear a face shield. Dr. Marsh said the state will look to help those people obtain the alternatives. He restated the lessons learned from mask wearing cultures. People should avoid what he calls the three “C’s”:
- Close indoor spaces
- Close constant contact with people you don’t live with
All of the Governor’s advisors addressed the inconvenience of wearing face coverings. Each stated they understood the difficulties, but stressed the vulnerability of the state’s population.
The Governor stated not wearing a mask is not a criminal offense. The consequences are related to the personal health of the residents of West Virginia.
Dr. Marsh stated face coverings should be washed between uses. Washing the cloth coverings just involves soap and water and allowing the covering to air dry.
The Governor stated West Virginia is a long way from having to shut down again. But this was based on people following the guidelines and reducing the number of new cases.