‘For the 95 that have died’
On Monday, Gov. Jim Justice announced his executive order mandating face coverings to be worn when a person is in a public indoor space where six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained. Children eight-and-under, people who are eating and people with trouble breathing or the inability to remove their masks without assistance are exempted from this mandate.
The executive order, which came into effect Tuesday at 12:01 a.m., resulted from a steep increase in COVID-19 cases throughout the state over the past two weeks.
In its last meeting on July 30, the Shepherdstown Town Council passed a motion approving the mayor’s suggestion to send a letter to the governor in support of a statewide mandatory face covering rule. As we reported on the meeting in our July 3 edition, Mayor Jim Auxer explained he wanted to make sure the governor knew that he would be supported, if he decided to mandate such a law. “The governor [may be] confused about this — it is a divisive thing. But maybe if he hears from constituents how we feel about that, maybe it will help him make that decision,” Auxer said during the meeting. “We’re giving him valuable information, valuable data in the decision he makes. We know that the numbers [of COVID-19 cases] are rising, so as the Shepherdstown community, we’re saying ‘we’re behind you if you mandate masks in West Virginia.'”
COVID-19 cases have continued to rise since the letter was sent to the governor, with 3,505 total cases and 95 deaths as of Tuesday in the state. Across the country, cases have also recently increased at an unprecedented pace, forcing other states, including Texas and Kansas, to make the decision to mandate mask wearing.
Unfortunately, these state governments seemed to have no choice but to begin requiring mask wearing, as many people throughout the United States have refused to social distance or wear masks of their own volition, in accordance with COVID-19 prevention guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In West Virginia, half, or 50 percent, of state residents recently admitted they have not followed the CDC social distancing guidelines, in a survey conducted by biotechnological products distribution company, MyBioSource, Inc. Along with everyday social distancing failures, such as visiting with large groups of people and not maintaining six feet of distance between people, many local residents have begun traveling extensively again to take their summer vacations.
While we at The Shepherdstown Chronicle understand local residents’ growing desire to enjoy the summer, we ask them to consider doing so with care for their fellow man. Following the mandate, along with the CDC’s other guidelines, will slow back down the spread of the virus, allowing more time for COVID-19 researchers to come up with treatments to end the pandemic.
“West Virginia, look around. Everywhere around us is breaking loose and our numbers are showing our numbers to be moving in a significantly wrong way,” Justice said in Monday’s press conference. “I’m telling you, West Virginia, if we don’t do this now, we are going to be in a world of hurt. I know it’s going to be an inconvenience, but do it for the 95 that have died.”