W.Va. Gov. Justice increases COVID-19 restrictions
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice issued several new executive orders during a news conference Friday morning, all in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
West Virginia has confirmed more than 700 new cases of the virus for three straight days, Justice said. The state also has its highest level of hospitalizations and patients in the ICU since the pandemic began.
“I am not going to be afraid,” Justice said. “But at the same time, we are very close to being afraid and concerned because people really need to be concerned. This situation is really not good, and it’s not good all across our land, so we have got to really be cautious in West Virginia.”
Justice says he’s issuing an indoor face covering requirement. To see that order, tap here.
You must wear one at all times in all public indoor places. This does not apply to kids under the age of nine or anyone has trouble breathing or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
It also doesn’t apply when you are at a restaurant and actively consuming food or drink, or in a room alone.
All businesses will be required to post signs and ensure it’s being followed.
This takes effect at 12 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 14.
The governor also announced staff members at nursing homes will be tested for COVID-19 twice a week, per an executive order.
Under a separate executive order, Justice postponed all winter sports until Jan. 11. This includes wrestling, basketball, and cheerleading. If you’ve already started practicing for the season or are part of a year-round team, you will have to stop.
Justice says fall sports will be allowed to be finish their seasons since there are only a few games left and most sports are played outside.
However, there will not be any midget leagues or travel ball. Those will be postponed until Jan. 11.
“All youth sports, and I hate it," Justice said. “I hate it like crazy and everything, but at the end of the day we have got to shut this down for a little while.”
Justice has also issued another executive order including schools. He says from Thanksgiving to the following Thursday (Nov. 26 - Dec. 2), students will not go to school. This applies to all 55 counties, as well as public and private schools. Students will move to remote learning Monday, Nov. 30 through Wednesday, Dec. 2. They will return to in-person instruction, as long as the color code permits it, on Thursday, Dec. 3.
This gives students and teachers a seven-day period that medical experts say will help with family gatherings taking place during Thanksgiving.
Justice also announced all band festivals are cancelled this spring. All concert band festivals will be cancelled for the rest of the year.
He says, “We’re not Texas. Or we’re not a Florida. We’re not a situation that is out of control right now. But we will be, because we are the oldest and we are the most chronically ill. And we can get there, and our hospital capacities are good, but really and truly we don’t have a major medical complex on every street corner too.”
After the news conference, the governor issued the following statement:
“I know, eight months into this pandemic, we are all tired and frustrated. I don’t like wearing a mask just as much as you, and I surely don’t want to see our fellow West Virginians in violation of the law. However, no one has the right to risk anyone else’s health. If you feel that you don’t want to wear a mask, then the answer is simple: don’t go into businesses or any other public buildings and risk harming your fellow West Virginians. Too many of our neighbors are getting sick, going to the ICU, and dying. At the end of the day, the responsible thing to do is to stand up and take bold, strong action. That’s what we did today by strengthening our indoor face covering requirement.
”If a business asks you to put on a mask or leave, and you refuse to do so, you are violating the law. If a police officer orders you to put on a mask or leave, and you refuse to do so, you are also violating the law. If a police officer orders a business to enforce our indoor face covering requirement, and they refuse to do so, the business is violating the law. There are real penalties for these violations.
“I am trying with all in me to avoid a loss of our businesses and your jobs. But I am also trying with all in me to avoid a massive loss of life in West Virginia.
”Finally, if some people are angry, and think it’s funny to retaliate and post my phone number online, that’s fine. The inconvenience is well worth it if we save just one life."
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