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W.Va. makes masks mandatory indoors

MANDATORY -- Gov. Jim Justice ordered Monday that masks be worn indoors effective at midnight this evening. -- Associated Press

CHARLESTON – With coronavirus cases coming in higher the last five days than at any point during the worst of the outbreak last spring, Gov. Jim Justice ordered Monday that masks be worn indoors effective at midnight this evening.

Justice, speaking during a coronavirus briefing Monday at the Capitol, said he will sign an executive order requiring the use of face masks or cloth coverings for all public and private buildings except for homes.

“I absolutely think it’s the right thing to do,” Justice said. “I know it’s not the popular thing to do, but absolutely at this point in time it’s the only right thing to do.”

During his briefing last Thursday before the July 4th holiday weekend, Justice said he would make a final decision on requiring masks Monday, giving his office time to observe the COVID-19 case numbers and time for the public to acquire face masks should he decided to sign the executive order.

According to the Department of Health and Human Resources, the number of positive cases over the last 14 days – between June 22 and July 5 – was 825, which is a 110-percent increase in positive cases from the previous 14 days.

On July 4, the state reported 119 positive cases, breaking all previous records for daily positive cases. The previous record was 73 cases on April 6 and April 18. That record was shattered on July 1 with 77 cases. There were 87 new cases Sunday. The total numbers of tests over the last 14 days was 36,095, which was a 6.7-percent decrease in testing compared testing conducted between June 8 and June 21.

Justice also announced the 94th and 95th deaths from the virus, 84- and 85-year-old women from Greenbrier county.

Justice, citing the recommendations from Dr. Clay Marsh, who heads the administration’s coronivirus efforts, said he knows the mandatory face covering will not be popular.

“But you didn’t elect me to do popular things.” he said.

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