Governor Jim Justice ...

By CHARLES OWENS

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

CHARLESTON — Governor Jim Justice gave residents of West Virginia advance warning Thursday of a possible mask mandate that may be coming next week for the Mountain State.

Justice said a “tidal wave” of new COVID-19 infections are hitting other states, including Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Arizona. He warned that West Virginia could be next unless steps are taken now to stop a second wave.

“If we watch what is going on in South Carolina, what is going on in Texas, what is going on in Florida, this whole thing is exploding at a time really and truly when the sun is out,” Justice said during a virtual press briefing Thursday. “So as we move forward, if we don’t watch, we are going to have something to really contend with here. With all of that being said, this is not easy to do right here, but I want you to know the thing that combats this disease and makes it powerless is when we restrict it from going from one person to next.”

Justice said if a second wave of the virus is heading toward West Virginia, the best way to stop it is a mask mandate.

“The way you stop this is masks, wearing your masks,” Justice said. “I want everyone to know that I am very, very seriously considering that at the beginning of next week we may very well go to mandatory masks in buildings other than your homes.”

Justice said state officials will continue to monitor all of the data over the weekend, and an update will provided at the beginning of next week.

“If, God forbid, this virus comes back at us, we need to be able to stop it, and one of the ways we can stop it is by wearing masks," Justice said. “And so, I want everyone to know that I am very, very seriously considering that, at the beginning of next week, we may very well have to go to mandatory masks inside buildings, other than your homes, where you are not able to social distance."

He asked residents of the state to prepare now for a possible mask mandate.

“We don’t want to end up being Florida or Arizona to where they can’t stop this now,” the governor said.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

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